Frank Slootman is the CEO at Snowflake. Frank has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive in the enterprise software industry. Frank served as CEO of ServiceNow from 2011 to 2017, taking the organization from $100M in revenue, through an IPO, to $1.4B. Prior to that, Frank served as President at EMC following an acquisition of Data Domain Corporation, where he served as the CEO, leading the company through an IPO to its acquisition by EMC for $2.4B. He’s also the best-selling author of Amp It Up.
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- Frank’s work ethic was developed as a child in the Netherlands. In his teens, he had summer jobs harvesting tulip bulbs and walking behind a tractor ten hours a day. He also cleaned factory toilets one summer in the plant where his dad worked.
- “The Man In The Arena” Theodore Roosevelt – Frank put this at the beginning of Amp It Up.
- After retiring from ServiceNow in 2017, Frank had no intention of taking another CEO role, but people like him “have a hard time leaving the arena.” It’s exciting to be back in a CEO role with Snowflake.
- Hiring — “Hire people ahead of their own curve.” Hire more for aptitude than experience and give people the career opportunity of a lifetime.
- NO MBO — “Another source of misalignment is management by objective (MBO). Which I have eliminated at every company I’ve joined in the last 20 years.”
- Push the pace — Leaders set the pace. “Instead of getting back to me in a week, I asked, “Why not tomorrow?” Change the cadence. Push the pace.
- The leadership “must-have” qualities:
- A need to prove something
- They want to show the world something… They have passion
- High trust
- Need some ego, but it has to be in check
- Legacy? “I don’t think about legacy much. When you’re dead, you’re dead.”
- Frank’s leadership team:
- We are not balanced, we are available to each other 24/7.
- Drivers vs. Passengers — “Passengers are people who don’t mind simply being carried along by the company’s momentum …They are often pleasant, get along with everyone, attend meetings promptly, and generally do not stand out as troublemakers … While passengers can often diagnose and articulate a problem quite well, they have no investment in solving it.” Frank wants front-seat drivers who’ll take ownership, make trouble, and help navigate.
- Raise Your Standards — Push for insanely great. A leader must always push the standard higher.
- Focus — “Founders don’t have a mindset around operating companies. Focus is one of our number one things. You need to learn to have extreme, machine focus, and most people don’t even know the beginning of what that means. They think they do, and they don’t.”
- “I’m more of a Patton than an Eisenhower,” he says, known for constantly driving the troops forward.
- Sequoia’s Carl Eschenbach remembers, “When we brought Frank into Snowflake, at our first board meeting he said, ‘Let me tell you how I’m running the board meetings and how you’re going to participate. We’re going to keep this very simple. I’m not even gonna tell you anything about the good stuff that’s happening because you already know that—I’m going to dive into the shit that’s broken and how we’re going to fix it.’”
- Very Brief Retirement — In 2017, Frank spent time regatta sailing, winning the iconic ocean race, Transpac. Race from Los Angeles to Oahu. (To win, “We focused on recruiting talent”).
- Put The Success of The Company Ahead of Your Own – If you want to build a Snowflake-sized company, you can’t be about the celeb-CEO lifestyle.
- “That’s not real life. Real life is you’re terrorized and uncomfortable every day of the week. People always ask me, ‘Is this normal?’ I’m like, yep.”
- Snowflake – Hit the ground running on April 26, 2019.
- Good news: They were on already on a tear.
- The bad news: “The company was quite impressed with itself.”
- Growth in all areas (revenue, retention rate, total customers, $1m Customers, Forbes Global 2000 Customers, Customer Satisfaction).
- The first 90 days as a new leader. It’s a combat zone. You must quickly assess what’s working, and what’s not. Who should stay on the bus, and who should get off.
- Apply to be part of my Leadership Circle
- Time Stamps:
- 00:00 – Intro
- 02:08 – Leadership Advice from a Parent
- 03:21 – Being in the Arena
- 05:25 – Success at Multiple Companies
- 08:57 – First Steps When Becoming CEO
- 10:41 – Who’s Off the Bus?
- 14:19 – Team Culture During Turnover
- 17:22 – Definition of Balance
- 19:16 – Becoming a CEO for the 3rd Time
- 28:17 – Qualities for a High-Level Leadership Role
- 34:27 – Confidence with Humility
- 37:41 – Circle of Influence
- 45:39 – Hiring Philosophy
- 46:42 – First Question in an Interview
- 48:39 – What is Lateral thinking?
- 51:01 – Celebrity CEOs
- 53:23 – One-Year Vetting Process
- 55:15 – First Steps of a CEO
- 56:38 – Advice to a Young Professional
- Read: The Pursuit Of Excellence
- Read: WELCOME TO MANAGEMENT
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- Read: Amp It Up
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