I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Zynga headquarters and spend 90 minutes with CEO Don Mattrick. This was another very cool workspace with large murals of all their famous games (Words With Friends, Farmville, etc). Casually dressed employees come and go at all hours, and the entire place reeks of creativity.
The best part of my West Coast jaunt was the hour and a half that I was able to talk with their CEO. Don Mattrick was very generous with his time and his perspective. It isn’t every day I get the opportunity to share leadership perspectives with a billionaire. We talked about what we look for in the people we hire, what questions we ask our top leaders, and how we develop leadership capacity in an organization. One of his most fascinating problems was motivating engineers who have already achieved a net worth of over $100 million.
Don is a very smart and curious person. He has the incredible challenge of maintaining a startup mentality in a very large company all in the midst of a fiercely competitive environment. He was refreshingly honest with the challenges he faces and how he thinks about leadership. His experiences at Electronic Arts and Microsoft provided a fascinating context to the new work he is doing to drive revenue and innovation at Zynga.
We talked about education and how schools should think about adjusting as technology becomes even more ubiquitous. He pushed me to think out five or ten years from now when we are all wearing 10 pieces of technology that are all interconnected. He asked us if the smartphone has changed our lives and then reminded us how recently that technology emerged. “The new stuff will blow you away.”
I walked away with a little parting gift as well. He thought Playing to Win by Lafley and Martin had implications for all leaders and organizations. I look forward to reading it and sharing my reflections.