Code Poets – “Good People Working Together Create Big Things”

March 9, 2018 § Leave a comment

Ran across a remarkable video (Tedx talk) by Jim Zemlin – CEO of the Linux Foundation

For anyone wondering what Mozilla has been like over the years, this video explains a ton.   Very similar companies. Very similar cultures.

For anyone inside of Mozilla, this video will resonate strongly.

A Ritual To Read To Each Other…..

April 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

A poem…begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment.

A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.   Robert Frost letter to Louis Untermeyer (1916).

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

by William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Star Splitter

by Robert Frost
But the first thing next morning we reflected
If one by one we counted people out
For the least sin, it wouldn’t take us long
To get so we had no one left to live with.
For to be social is to be forgiving.

As we end this week, Mozilla arrives at yet another inflection point in our history.  Many have already offered their views and insights on our leadership changes recently.   Like Here:  Mozilla Is Human

The best I can offer is to try to help everyone remember Mozilla’s roots and to remind everyone that a company builds its culture everyday. Mozilla has always built our culture the way we build our software – open source and transparently (view source).

From John Liilly’s Poetry and Pragmatics and Glass House

to Deb Cohen’s Holding Space and Finding My Own

to Reid’s reminder today to “Let’s not waste a good crisis”.

Now is the time to double down on everything that’s great about Mozilla.
Now, more than ever, is the time to show the world WHO Mozilla is, WHY we exist, and HOW we operate. Now is the time to lean in hard.

As Churchill said,“If you are going through hell, keep going”.  Or you may prefer Robert Frost version “the best way out is always through”.

I’ll end with more of a list from the top of my head.  A running list of the values and behaviors that have created Mozilla’s culture over time:  (you can add your own in the comments)

“It’s the People”:  People create culture from a shared purpose, values and behaviors.  Mozilla creates space for people’s “best of”.   This environment in turn attracts more talent and the upward spiral of knowing more, doing more, and being better.

Operating Openly:  Minimum Requirements
Leading with Respect
Having an Opinion
Sharing It
Listening for the Best Idea
Being Accountable
Learning a lot
Teaching a little

“You’re Right” are 2 very powerful words
Let’s Fix It are 3 words that should follow

Behaviors Required?
Personal Authenticity…it’s ok to be vulnerable.  It’s ok to say you don’t know.  It’s important to say “we’ll figure it out together”
Modeling Accountability
Ferocious Integrity
Capacity and Willingness to Connect with Others Deeply.
Trust requires Transparency
Being an Empathetic Ambivert (as in ambidextrous to both extroverts and introverts)
Showing Up, Digging In, and Being Yourself.

On Leadership:
LEADERSHIP is not a title and it’s not management it’s a BEHAVIOR….anyone can exhibit it.
We model courage or cowardice and leadership everyday.
Every time we show up and/or FAIL to show up.
Every time we use our voice.

On Culture
I’m looking at the Culture when I’m looking at YOU (and your behaviors)
You Are the Culture (in the way you show up)
I am the Culture
We are the Culture

Please turn to the Mozillian next to you…and let’s begin again.

Trust Can Scale; Trust Requires Transparency

February 15, 2013 § 17 Comments

I’ve had drafts of this very topic (Trust Can Scale) and (Trust Requires Transparency) in various forms throughout the years (emails, notes, discussions with various Mozilla employees/ execs and industry panel presentations).   Last weekend, I woke up and during my normal routine (coffee, scanning Twitter) I stumbled upon another classic @bfeld post that nails the concept better than I’ve ever written or spoken it.  Thanks Brad for finally inspiring this post!

Trust Can Absolutely Scale!

Mozilla has been operating this way for years.  We don’t know how to do it differently.   Yes, Brad, we are now a +700 person company and yes, it absolutely still works!

I’m known inside Mozilla for being emphatic about “Optimizing for efficiency and productivity”.  You’ll rarely hear me leading with “optimizing for cost” or with financial requirements.  In the rare cases I have tried leading with money/cost only guidelines, it has backfired with unintended results of severe inefficiency (needs another post).    We absolutely optimize for self-direction and the ability for every employee to make balanced and quality decisions.  And yes, that requires optimizing around Trust!

We trust all Mozillians to treat our resources and our spending as if it were their own money.  As Mozilla’s CFO, I have regular proof they do (via verification reporting systems that we’ve built).  A shining examples is our self-managed travel system (Egencia) which has had calls over the years to be replaced.   When those calls come, I always ask “Why Replace?”  and “What Would You Like to Solve For?”   The answers, so far, have always led back to Egencia simply working and being the most efficient and productive for most individual travelers.  (note: Groups/Event travel are a whole different story)

Trust in these systems doesn’t mean lack of control.  Quite the opposite actually.  We absolutely “Trust AND Verify”.  In Egencia (and many other of our cloud based self-managed systems), we build all the classic controls and signature approval policies inside each system.   And like any other more traditional policy, we allow exceptions which are also recorded inside each system (Transparent Exceptions).    Then, we let our employees simply use the system to manage their own time, their own travel, their own business needs.   A look at most of Mozilla’s systems below.  Nearly all are “cloud based” and most have a self-directed component allowing management and finance to get out-of-the-way.


I recently emailed all employees with our latest Mozilla wide Egencia Travel Report for CY 2012 and congratulated everyone on this incredibly successful trust based system.    Some of our impressive metrics?  (cut/pasted from my email)

  • Last Qtr we purchased 750 Airline Tickets
  • 93% were issued via self-service online – no agent/human needed.
  • Avg Ticket price ~ $930;   breaks down as $465 avg domestic;  avg $1,125 Int’l
  • 28 days Avg Advanced Purchased – Awesome;  we are planning trips better!;  this used to be bordering on the all critical 14 days.
  • Last Qtr we spent over 1500 Nights In A Hotel Room
  • Avg. rate of $205 per night.
  • We don’t drive nearly as much;  Only 1400 car rentals in CY 2012 x $39 per day avg. = $56,000 Total Car rentals in CY 2012;  Keep mass transporting!

Which brings me to another key concept inside Mozilla.  Trust requires Transparency.   Mozilla does transparency very well.  Transparency includes building in complete click-through audit trails into all of our systems that easily shows who did what and when.  When you have such trusted systems and transparent systems, there’s literally nowhere to hide.

Transparency is the rather simple act of showing your work.  Communicating openly what you did and why.  Being accountable for your actions and saying “your right, I missed that” or “good catch, let’s fix that”.  Transparency means being able to defend your decisions.  Transparency is also the most efficient way of inherently teaching as you go.  That’s it.

I’d recommend anyone uncomfortable with this transparency concept to get used to it…fast.   The younger generations always plant and grow the seeds of cultural change.  Our younger generations are beginning to lead more of our most exciting companies and their underlying cultures.   This “information everywhere generation” and “digital youth” have grown up with a natural ability to parse amazing amounts of information to get to the core of most issues quickly.   They are also naturally collaborative and expect everyone else to  share  and solve.  Since information is virtually free, they compete and differentiate by developing unique solutions from the shared knowledge pools.

Ultimately, Transparency breeds Trust and very powerful Teams.

Trust + Complete Transparency = A Great Culture and Greater Control

This post started with Brad Feld’s recent post – Trust Can Scale – so I’ll end with my favorite part of that post:

A startup obviously needs to add process in order to scale, but if you replace trust with process, you’ll rip the heart right out of your company.   When adding processes, ask yourself the following questions:

    Does this new process help us go faster?
    Does this new process help us be more efficient?

Trust could be one of your most valuable company assets.  As a leader, you need to fight like hell to protect it.  If you are successful protecting trust, you’ll actually grow much faster and you’ll still have a place where people love working.

Read more of Brad’s post:  Trust Can Scale

And another great post on “Process” that recently made its rounds around Mozilla to wide acclaim.

The Process Myth

Thoughts?  How’s this all working inside your company?    Please comment below:

Bracing for impact

July 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

When you walk around bracing for impact, you’re dramatically decreasing your chances. Your chances to avoid the outcome you fear, your chances to make a difference, and your chances to breathe and connect.

Why the Structural Changes to the VC Industry Matter

July 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Andreessen Horowitz

The structure of the VC industry is changing. This matters not only to entrepreneurs raising capital — but it also impacts the finance industry overall, because companies are staying private longer (fewer IPOs) and public investors (including hedge funds, mutual funds, publicly held corporations) are getting into the VC game, too. So in that sense these changes affect everyone who is in the market.

The changing structure of the VC industry was a huge topic at the recent PreMoney conference — and the focus of a discussion between me and fellow venture capitalist Mark Suster, which you can watch here and here. Mark also just wrote an excellent post discussing the structural changes; I highly recommend you read it. To summarize, some of the key observations include: the rise of small funds (they now account for 67% of all new funds raised in 2014); the concentration of capital among fewer, larger…

View original post 1,456 more words

Lights-Innovation-Kids…Changing the World

March 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

For anyone who missed this inspiring story of the week.  Has all the elements of a great story:  A Canadian girl hacker/inventor who took 1st Prize at the annual Google Science Fair.   Inspiration for us all…especially our kids.

Last May I posted this of a similar boy in Africa

In Honor of Presidents Day – Top 10 Favorite Quotes

February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

These “President Day Quotes” are all making rounds on the internet today.   Here’s my top 10 from various sources:

Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot, and hang on”

Thomas Jefferon quote

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal;  nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.


John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

john quincy adams

If our 6th President were alive today, he’d be a Mozillian – “Knowing More, Doing More, Being Better’

Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837: “Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go (all) in.”   I’m not sure poker was as popular back then, but it it were, he definitely would have said “all in”.

andrew jackson quote

James Garfield, 1881: “Be fit for more than the thing you are now doing. Let everyone know that you have a reserve in yourself; that you have more power than you are now using. If you are not too large for the place you occupy, you are too small for it.”


Teddy Roosevelt, 1901-1909: “We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage.”

teddy roosevelt quote

William Taft, 1909-1913: “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”


Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921: “One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to be supplied is light, not heat.”


We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this.”


Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb … Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent….”

Coolidge persistence

Bill Clinton, 1993-2001: “….It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”

Clinton-never quit

Barack Obama, 2009-present: “One voice can change a room. And if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city. And if it can change a city, it can change a state. And if it can change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

obama quote

Final Bonus quotes:  Benjamin Franklin (Founding Father), 1706-1790; 

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”;

“Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I remember, Involve me and I learn”.


and I have to end on this one:


The Mozument and our Mozilla San Francisco office

February 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

We held a celebration of all things Mozilla and in particular our new sign for our San Francisco office…our @Mozument.  In preparation, we wrote a little blurb describing our San Francisco office for the press in attendance.   Don’t miss the pics at the bottom!

Mozilla’s office design embodies our approach to software – open source and collaborative, with a large portion of the office dedicated to serving our larger Mozilla  community  of volunteers.  Snacks and comfortable seating are abundant and our flexible spaces lend themselves to a variety of activities including hackathons, design labs, brownbags, and industry talks each integral to our world class leadership in software development.

One shining example of Mozilla’s open source approach is our newly installed Mozilla Sign (Monument) at the corner of the Embarcadero and Harrison street.  More than a sign, it represents our world community in both symbol and structure with its combination of glass (transparency) and steel (strength).  Looking closer, you’ll find the etchings of nearly 5,000 contributor names (Mozillians) who help make us…well, “Mozilla”.  Ultimately, we hope it serves as a beacon not just for the city of San Francisco but for the current and future participation of our worldwide open source community.

Inside the office, the company recognizes the evolving flexible working environment required by today’s knowledge workers.  Collaboration zones are designed to connect  flexible teams and their projects.  All desks are actually push-button, height-adjustable surfaces, allowing people to work at their own “height number”.  There are no executive offices. In their place, there are dozens of conference rooms each outfitted with whiteboards, presentation, and video conferencing capability.  Our goal with these spaces is to connect  our global Mozillian workforce whether they work from their homes or in one of the dozen Mozilla spaces located across four different continents.  Amidst all this collaboration space, we maintain a focus of ensuring privacy (when desired) and noise reduction while maintaining the open office plan.  Whether it’s our Buzzi-felt sound absorbing walls and ceilings or private phone booths, we aim to respect each individual’s preferences.

Perhaps the most stunning feature of our famed San Francisco office is our 7th floor roof deck nestled directly underneath the historic Hills Brothers sign with its famous nightly red neon glow.  With sweeping views of the Ferry Building, the Oakland bay bridge, Alcatraz, and the Embarcadero walking paths, you’ll often find Mozillian’s camped out on the decks outdoor couches Wi-Fi’ing away in classic California outdoor working style.  On other days and weekends, this deck provides the perfect hot spot for Blue Angels, Fireworks, or events like the Americas Cup.  Mozilla’s offices are definitely on the short list of San Francisco’s must-visit office spaces.







MonumentupcloseMozilla Monument

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