Jennifer Dulski: “You have to take fun seriously”

Jennifer Dulski, one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley and president of, gives us 5 ways to make your company a better workplace.


A better workplace for everyone

A few weeks ago we were able to speak to Jennifer Dulski while paying a visit to the Berlin office of online petition platform Jennifer left Google in early 2013 to become President and COO of As Jennifer writes and speaks a lot about topics such as workplace management, leadership and working as a woman in the tech industry, we asked  for her top five things you can do to make your company a better workplace for everyone.


1. Understand what motivates each person

There is this concept I call “The Motivational Pie Chart”. It asks people what matters to them, and what I found over the years is that there are certain things that matter to a lot of people and that are very common. There are other things that are very unique to individuals and that you wouldn´t know unless you actually ask employees. For instance, I had people who cared a lot for a particular activity they did outside of work which might have some unusual time requirements. For instance I had a person once who really liked to rock climb. That was extremely important to him and he wanted to do it a certain number of mornings a week. That meant he could not come to early morning meetings on those days. Understanding his objective meant I could work around it to make it easier for him to participate. Another example might be: some people are very motivated by public recognition when they do a good job, other people are better motivated by cash or gifts. Managers often make the mistake of rewarding other people in the way they want to be rewarded – which is usually wrong – and I learned that by making mistakes myself.

2. Give people a sense of purpose and meaning in their work

A critical thing for leaders to make their companies a great place to work is providing clarity of mission and vision for the company or for the team, and it is actually surprising how few companies really do this well. Not only get people inspired about the mission but also show them how their work connects directly to the mission. If you don´t have line of sight to how your work connects to the mission then it is hard to be excited about your job. So even though it may seem disconnected there are really ways to connect them. As an example: we have a person on our team whose job it is to make sure that our clients are getting their campaigns launched on time. If you think that the mission of our company is to empower people everywhere to create change then how do you think about your job working with a particuar client and a particular tool as being connected. Our job is to connect the dots for them to show how this piece of our work is connected to the mission.

3. Articulate clear values

For us it´s not just the mission and vision of where we are going – the values of how we get there are also important. Many companies have actually not taken the time to articulate their values, but it´s something we spent several months working on, working with the whole team. We did a survey of our whole global team because our belief is that values are discovered from within a company – they are discovered by the way people already behave. We now have seven values, every office of has them on the wall. We took feedback from the whole company. But the most important thing is not just to articulate them but also to live them. We went from value to value and worked with the team on ways how we could bring those values to life. We are about to launch a new ´Values Ambassador Program´ – every quarter we will have one employee who gets nominated and is selected as an ambassador for each value because of things they have done to demonstrate that value, and that person will get to visit any other office they want to in the world to be an ambassador of that value and share it with the rest of the team. So we as leaders need to create policies that bring the values to life but then we also need to encourage the team to really demonstrate the values on a daily basis.

4. Model the behaviour you would like to see

This is also often not done and I like to use an example here: we recently launched a new paid parental leave program – so if the leaders of the company do not take parental leave when they have children then it´s hard for other team members to think that they can, too. Another example: we give five weeks of vacation globally for the company which is pretty standard here in Europe but very generous in other parts of the world. So we´d like to say that it is very important for the leaders of the company to take vacation, because if we don´t take it, it seems like we are expecting our team not to take it. Leaders need to set the right example.

5. Take fun seriously

This is one of our values. People like working with people they enjoy being with, they like to have a fun culture in addition to being very focused at work. This is particularly important for us because the work we do is so intense. We work on very important campaigns that are sometimes a matter of life and death for some people on a daily basis. So we have some fun traditions for the end of the year. Even if we are not together we do fun videos, lifestreaming them globally for everyone on the team, we write cover versions of songs and have everybody singing them. It really is silly stuff, but this is what bonds people together and makes it feel like we are here both for a really important purpose and because we genuinely like each other and what we do.

More international voices on EDITION F:

Six Years at SoundCloud, Five Lessons learned. Read on

Everyday I’m hustlin’: The ultimate guide to staying motivated in Berlin. Read on