Five things I learned in my first five days

Monday, 31 March 2014

I just completed my first week here in a new role, as head of community outreach and corporate philanthropy. As I jump in, my goal is to listen and learn as much as possible; and to acquaint more of my colleagues with our community, and vice versa.

Even in this first week, I’ve connected with more than 25 employees and 15 community groups. I’ve learned a lot, and have distilled the week into these five findings:

  1. Employees give back. As I’ve met people this week and they learn about my role, they tell me about the nonprofits where they have worked, or organizations where they currently volunteer. There’s Lindsay who organizes San Francisco Twitter employees to serve meals at Glide; Jacob, who is committed to giving away 10% of his income and is encouraging others to as well; and Kayla, who just taught a class on job searching with social media at the San Francisco Public Library. Beyond San Francisco, I’ve also discovered that Twitter Dublin selects and supports a charity of the year, and this year it’s the Ireland Cancer Society. Even though I’m just scratching the surface, it’s really heartening to see how people are involved.
  2. Twitter gives back. You may already know that Twitter provides its employees with delicious meals, but in addition we ensure that no food is wasted. We work with Food Runners, whose volunteers distribute all donated leftovers to people in need at organizations like Golden Gate Senior Services and the Father Alfred Center. Our Food Services Team, organizes sandwich assembly lines during our regular employee service days, called Friday for Good (coming up in June). I met an intern participating in the San Francisco-based Year Up internship program (she’s learning tech support), and I met with our neighbors from Oasis for Girls. We can occasionally offer up our event space to great groups like theirs to host their own fundraisers. And this week, we received a thank-you note from the Eviction Defense Collaborative, whom we support to help tenants avoid eviction from their San Francisco homes.
  3. Interesting people visit Twitter. Folks like Adam Braun from Pencils for Promise and Arianna Huffington stop by to meet employees and talk about their passions. These visits give our engineers, designers and product teams wonderful ideas and inspiration for Twitter.
  4. Twitter is transparent. Twitter cares a lot about simplicity in product design, and it turns out we also care about communicating among ourselves clearly. At orientation for new employees, the heads of various parts of the company (including Dick, our CEO) come to talk about their work. I was pleased to see how accessible and down to earth everyone was, and so appreciate that Twitter values openness such that even bright-eyed new staffers are entrusted with critical business information.
  5. Twitter is powerful. Twitter has had a lot of significant moments in its 8 years. Last week our response to being banned in Turkey (here’s our first note, and the second, after a subsequent court decision supported free expression) was a strong reminder of the influence this platform has.

It’s exciting to be embarking on this journey and see what positive impact we can have both locally and around the world. I’m pleased to learn about all of these bright spots, and know there’s still a lot more the company can achieve in terms of outreach and giving. If you have thoughts to share about these preliminary reflections, reach out to [email protected]. Here’s to all that lies ahead!