Edit more, write less
In a wide-ranging interview on AngelList’s podcast, Keith Rabois talks about his experiences helping to grow Paypal, Square, and OpenDoor (amongst others).
There’s a wealth of learning in there, including Keith’s theory on hiring barrels which we’ve started to really take to heart at Canva. But one of the things that caught my ear were his thoughts on editing as management:
“The CEO is almost never really doing that much work in a company compared to the people actually shipping stuff. And if you think about a metaphor that applies to that it’s editing. The editor of the New York Times doesn’t write virtually anything. But there’s one voice of the New York Times and they are ensuring a quality bar and a consistent voice. That’s what a CEO really does – ensures a standard of performance and one voice across all products, marketing, etcetera.”
I’ve written before about product managers needing to be great editors, but Keith’s take on editing really drove home the different types of editing you can do at different layers in a company. It’s something that people start doing as soon as they begin interacting with anyone other than themselves – synthesising collaborators’ opinions, finding patterns in user research, ordering a team’s priorities – and particularly so when people start looking to you for guidance in their own work.
Being able to edit: simplify, guide, delete, and (as a last resort) add, is a skill that you continually improve upon and apply in different scenarios. And it’s the key to any good management and leadership.