Friday, October 24, 2008

Yahoo - A Connecting Company

It was 3PM on Wednesday afternoon and most of the employees of Yahoo were gathered in the courtyard of the corporate campus. Earnings had just been announced the day before and a grim outlook of 1,500 jobs, 10% of Yahoo's workforce, had been announced would be cut over the coming months. The gathering was an all hands meeting. An opportunity for company leadership to openly talk about last quarter's performance and highlight objectives for the upcoming quarter.

It would be easy to imagine a lot of sullen faces filled with looks of worry and concern. But that just wouldn't be the Yahoo way. You see the people who work for Yahoo are passionate. In speaking with several employees during a post-meeting party known as Yahoo Oktoberfest, though people are understandably concerned they remain none-the-less optimistic and downright passionate about where the company is going. It was certainly not something I expected.

Actually what I realized as we enjoyed lots of the various varieties of beer with our gracious Yahoo hosts, Yahoo really is good at connecting. Whether it be the after earnings all hands meetings where executives not only address the state of the company but make themselves available to mix and mingle over a cold beverage, or just the open format in which quarterly parties like this one make it easy for Yahoo employees to meet and connect with one another. It was both impressive and inspiring to see just how upbeat and positive everyone was and I had enough conversations with people to know it wasn't just the free beer and brawts talking.

In fact I was a little apprehensive about being invited to such a private corporate event. My visitor badge more than pointed out I was not an employee of the company. But any trepidation I may have initially felt instantly vanished when someone tapped me on the shoulder while I was in one of the keg lines to say, "Welcome to Yahoo! Can I get you some food to go with the beer?" From there it only got better. People came up and introduced themselves completely unprompted. Conversations went from the cursory, "oh your from Austin - I love Austin," to the more direct and engaged conversations about why Yahoo is such a "kick ass place to work."

I met people in a million years I would never have had a chance to meet. People were incredibly friendly and again I believe it was more than just the beer talking. No, it was genuine passion and workplace evangelism. I observed several different people connecting from various departments for the first time. I watched people have serious conversations about what had just been revealed in the all hands meeting. I watched problems being solved and creative conversations happen and ideas sprout up that would get jotted into iPhones, Blackberries or the occasional palm of a hand. More than once I had to remind myself of my amazingly good fortune to be standing right there in the middle of it all. It was truly inspiring.

This gathering was more than just a great opportunity for employees to have a few beers -that would be too tech company passe. No this gathering was straight up connecting - both on the corporate level and on an employee to employee basis. It was great to see a company that has had a few bumps in the road can still engage its employees in such a way that it further inspires the troops to ooze Yahoo purple.

There is no doubt in my mind that Yahoo is every bit a connecting company - their employees are proof of that!

Ripple On!!!

4 comments: said...

awesome that you were treated so well and that you found this out. kathleen

PS. i'm not getting updates at all (via the email alert or the google reader program) ... so if i just remember to pop on your web occasionally on my google list, i can see your new stuff once i dig into it, but it does not automatically show a highlighted with numbers of new posts like the other websites show. no idea why. but your website is too interesting to miss out on, so i'll keep popping on it from time to time, even though it is not lit up on the google reader list. thanks for the positive thoughts and recommendations. always good food for thought here :)

Suebs said...

Good Morning Steve!

They gave away free beer? Awesome! I'm sure that helps, though, to put people at ease. The email feed started to work for me! ;-)

Steve Harper said...

Thanks Kathleen! I am still not sure what is going on with Blogger and why it is not updating in the various readers. I will keep digging though.

Thanks so much for your kind comments and your readership. It means the world to me!

Steve Harper said...


Free beer, great people and a good time had by all!

What did you do differently in your feeder or did it just start working?

Ripple On!!!