Since 2008, Sheryl Sandberg has been Managing Director (COO) of Facebook Inc., billionaire and book author. As part of the dmexco 2017, she explained how companies should have a mission and communities are important for small businesses. Sandberg was born in Washington, DC in 1969 and studied economics at Harvard University from 1987. In her Bachelor's thesis, she dealt with violence in families and social disparities between spouses in 1991. For the World Bank, she researched India and AIDS. She attended Harvard Business School between 1993 and 1995, then worked at McKinsey and Company until 1996, and was chief of staff at the US Treasury from 1996 to 2001. From 2001 to 2007, she was vice president of Google's global online sales and then joined Facebook. According to the Forbes Magazine 2016 ranking, she is one of the seven most powerful women in the world, while her books “Lean In” and “Option B” make her one of the most important representatives of the new American women's movement. An overview of the positions she spoke about at dmexco 2017.
Wars, trumps, environmental catastrophes - which are currently the biggest social challenges?
People are afraid for their security, they are afraid of terror attacks or natural catastrophes like Hurricane Kathrina. But they are also concerned about the change in the working world.
Many are afraid of being left behind by digitization and losing their jobs - keyword artificial intelligence and automation.
Are such concerns justified?
We are currently experiencing the fastest changes in communication since human thought:
Whereas in the past new developments took decades to become established, for example mobile technology needed only one decade to reach a billion. This is incomprehensible.
Can technology help solve problems?
I firmly believe that technology can help make the world a little better. Just think of new methods of analysis and investigation in cancer screening that help defeat this disease.
And there are many small businesses that use technology with great optimism to implement exciting ideas. Last year in Berlin, for example, I visited the WALK AGAIN Center in Berlin for robot and computer-assisted rehabilitation. Also great is CUCULA eV, a model project that teaches refugees the basics of craftsmanship and design and prepares them for their education or profession with a coupled educational program.
How can small companies be successful, given the big competition?
This is actually quite simple. And then again not in the implementation, how many things. For a business idea to become a successful business, 3 needs things first and foremost:
- A company must be focused on its mission: It needs a goal that can consist, for example, of helping other people create products. What is important is that the company stands for something. Facebook, for example, has a very simple goal: to bring people together.
- A company must build a community: The way its brand communicates is more important today than ever before. As a result, businesses need a sense that the common cause is greater than themselves. Businesses must take their responsibility for their business seriously.
- Companies must communicate who they are: Authenticity is so important in business, and that applies even more to corporate brands. Companies must make it clear what their mission looks like and what holds their community together in order to be perceived as authentic. But companies are also more exposed today than before, communication is faster, so more communication is necessary. Purpose drives success!
Is so much autonomy for companies as possible and useful?
There are some great examples of how authenticity companies can help: Dove's real beauty campaign, which attracted great attention. Or Schamon Coffee, the oldest coffee-making establishment in Cologne. Or Tina Sapia of Sapias Barbershop in Florida, where I come from.
Or, as the most prominent example, Airbnb, which has created an offer that allows people to experience a city like its inhabitants.
A company must always ask itself: What makes other people stop and remember a brand? And especially small businesses can use the possibilities of the Internet to spread their message.
How does Facebook want to help small, ambitious companies?
We have a great passion for creative ideas. For example, videos on Facebook and Instagram are a great way to tell stories. People love mobile videos. We also want advertising, which looks like organic content, so people can share it. This is good for people and good for the commitment.
When people share the power of technology and believe that things are getting better, we can together meet these challenges. Of course, not everything is perfect, because not every idea can work for everyone, but I am enthusiastic and feel honored to work with such people. I hope everyone will fulfill their mission.
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