The other day i was interviewing a potential senior leadership hire at YouTube. In discussing the similarities and differences between YouTube and Google, i stressed to him that this was the identity schema i hoped YouTube would instill in him and others:
Consider yourself a YouTuber, who works in your particular discipline (eng, sales, product, etc) and that we collectively are accountable to Google for certain performance metrics.
Why is this ordering important to me? Well, because i hope that everyone at YouTube feels like they’re with us because of our mission and they’re practicing a professional discipline which will help contribute to our collective success. The opposite (i’m a product guy who happens to work at YouTube) puts them as an individual ahead of the group.
But what about the relationship i describe between Google and YouTube? Is my desire to see our team identify first as YouTubers instead of Googlers helpful or harmful? I certainly advocate for close communication, collaboration and mutual respect between all google teams, so i don’t think it’s a question of being better/worse. I’m not asking anyone to renounce their Googler identity – clearly many of us worked on non-YouTube google products before and will do so again. I joined Google in 2003 and have deep reverence for the people and my last seven years.
In examination though i think it comes from wanting YouTube to be a strong tribe of people who self-identify first and foremost w/ what we’re doing. That tight knit commitment feels like an important part of our culture and one which is a competitive advantage. It also means that at least mentally, you’re all-in to this job.
YouTube is also a substantial enough property (#3 website, hundreds of millions of users), that i believe our community deserves a team which intensely describes themselves as YouTubers. If we, as employees, are not ourselves a community, how can we ask our users to join together similarly?
So after a bit of consideration, i’m comfortable with maintaining this perspective so long as it doesn’t cause us to isolate ourselves from the broader google strategy and identity.
What do you think? How do you define yourself w/in your company?