Invest Like the Best with Patrick O’Shaughnessy: Dustin Moskovitz – Cofounder of Facebook and Asana
Dustin Moskovitz (t:@moskov) is an Internet entrepreneur who co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, and Chris Hughes. In 2008, he left Facebook to co-found Asana with Justin Rosenstein.
The diminishing returns of hard work
- A lot of people compete about how many hours per week they’re working, but it’s a fallacy.
- You get diminishing returns as you go beyond 50 or 60 hours per week; your hours get less productive.
- When you’re burnt out, you’re not as good of a teammate; it’s easier to get into conflict, and it’s harder to work through disagreement and make productive progress with the team.
- The goal is not to maximize your hours but to maximize your output.
- The basic axiom is that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Use culture to set standards
- Set an example and have other people follow that example: don’t work late at night or on the weekends.
- Feel okay about unplugging.
- Get more separation between your work and your personal life.
- Meetings are not evil, but they chop up your calendar and can interrupt focus time.
It’s really important to have that clarity, the separation of when you’re working and when you’re resting. You’re not constantly checking your email and getting push notifications and keeping half of your mind in the work context.
Knowledge workers say they’re spending 60% of their time on what we call “work about work,” sending these long emails back and forth, going to status update meetings, or communicating about work, rather than doing the creative work that will result in output for the business.
Don’t just work about work! The pyramid of clarity
Give people clarity about what’s most important, what the strategy is, and what the goals are that they’re working towards
The pyramid of clarity from top to bottom:
- The Mission
- Company-wide objectives
- Business, product, and internal objectives
- Key results
Most of “work about work” is really exchanging status information and getting on the same page with your team. Time gets wasted because people don’t understand what’s important or don’t understand what somebody else is doing. Help people connect to the higher parts of that pyramid of clarity so they know which things to prioritize and why they matter.
When to consider changing a company’s mission
- The mission shouldn’t change!
- Keep the same structure of the objectives and just change what the targets are, and some initiatives
- The stuff at the bottom should change the most often, and the items further up should change less often.
Recommendations for younger companies
- Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve, then objectively evaluate whether you did achieve that.
- When you go into a meeting, determine what the goals of this meeting are and what the non-goals are.
- Ask about the specific metrics we’re trying to move.
- This eliminates a lot of wishy-washy thinking.
Persevere as a founder, because I think if you’re going after a really big mission, it’s just often going to take a lot of years.
Starting a new company versus working at an existing one
- You need to be extremely motivated to start a new company; you are bringing something new into the world that doesn’t currently exist.
- But it’s going to be really hard—probably harder than you think.
- Your motivation needs to be outsized to bring you through.
The Plusses and Minuses of AI
- Artificial intelligence (AI) at Asana will be about helping identify bottlenecks or minimizing the time and effort it takes to get to a certain goal.
- There are already existing misuses of AI, and they’re going to get worse over time as AI is embedded into autonomous weaponry.
- It could rise to the level of being a civilizational existential risk.