Book Review: Becoming Facebook—The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World


Reading time ( words)

Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World
Author: Mike Hoefflinger
2017 Amacon
Price $24.95

Make no mistake about it: This is not just the story of one company, but rather one that describes the many challenges that all companies face and must overcome to be successful.

Hoefflinger was on the Facebook team, working closely with Sheryl Sandberg on growing the advertising business side of the company, and he provides valuable insight on what it was like inside the company as they met and overcame their challenges. He focuses specifically on the years 2009−2015, which is the exact time frame that Facebook came into its own as a true global presence.

One of the highlights is the author’s description of its IPO, including their initial disappointment and how they eventually turned things around. But the most insightful aspect of this book is that it provides an insider’s look at key people at Facebook and how they operate. The way they hire and engage their employees is, frankly, like no other company that I have read about and I believe this is the true secret sauce to the company’s success.

In this book, Hoefflinger discusses Lori Goler and her focus on “strengths-based” organizations, and how she used her logical tactics to help Facebook grow from a few hundred employees in 2008 to 12,000 in 2016. Taking a page from the book First, Break all the Rules by Buckingham and Coffman, she follows these four tenets:

  1. Select for talent, not just experience and determination
  2. Define outcomes, not steps
  3. Motivate by focusing on strengths, not fixing weaknesses
  4. Find the right fit, not just the next rung

Even though this is a book about a large company, there is something in the book for every company, big or small. I tend to work with smaller companies, yet I was able to find something useful, like these bits of advice:

  • “Significant change requires an unusual degree of day-in-and-day-out effort. Only an extraordinary degree of passion can fuel that effort.”
  • “Disruption is inevitable and in the modern connected economy, can come more swiftly than ever. To retain initiative—especially when you’re winning—shape that disruption through your own moves instead of falling victim to those of others.”

In other words, if you don’t define your future, someone else will.

Do not pass this book by because your company is a $5 million electronics assembly company and you think there is nothing you can learn by reading it. Honestly, that’s what I thought too, until a friend urged me to rethink my position and give the book a try.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned and was able to use when dealing with my own company and clients. Take the time to read Becoming Facebook. There is something for everyone in this book.

Find it on Amazon.

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