Photo: Noah Kagan
A former Facebook product manager named Noah Kagan has written a brutally honest article about how and why he got fired from Facebook in 2006 and what he learned from it.The experience must be particularly painful, given that it eventually cost Kagan a $100 million fortune.
So the fact that Kagan has not only learned from it and is now willing to share these lessons with others is a major tribute to him.
Kagan joined Facebook in 2005, about a year after Mark Zuckerberg started the company in his Harvard dorm room. Eight months later, when Facebook had grown from a tiny startup with ~30 people to a global phenomenon with more than 150 employees, Kagan got canned.
With the benefit of hindsight, he now understands why.
In short, as Facebook grew, it needed people with different skills, and Kagan’s skills and attitude didn’t grow with the company.
This is something that anyone who has worked at a rapidly growing startup can relate to. And Kagan’s experience is one that has been shared by thousands of executives over the years, including many at Facebook.
The biggest lessons Kagan learned, he said, were these:
- During his time at Facebook, he was selfish–it was all about him: “I wanted attention, I put myself before Facebook. I hosted events at the office, published things on this blog to get attention and used the brand more than I added to it. Lesson learned: The BEST way to get famous is make amazing stuff. That’s it. Not blogging, networking, etc.”
- The best way to ensure that you’ll never get canned is to keep finding ways to make your company more valuable. “Go see if your weaknesses are hindering you at your job. Ie. I wasn’t great at planning or product management at this time. Fix them or move to other position. Also, constantly ask yourself how can I make the company more valuable. You do that and you will never get fired*. *unless you do something really stupid or the company goes out of business.”
Kagan is now the Chief Sumo at AppSumo. The intro to his post is below. You can read the rest on his blog, OkDork:
Can I be real with you? Real real?
I’m TIRED of answering this question so I’d rather write it out and just point people to this post.
Let me start in reverse.
I can tell you every detail of the day I got fired aka “let go” aka “down-sized” aka “[__]-canned.”
I thought I was going to a routine coffee with my boss and randomly saw Matt Cohler sitting at the table inside (surprising)!
I knew something was amiss. Matt broke the news quickly and I was in dead-shock as the words came out of his mouth. They walked me back to the office and removed my laptop and my cell phone.
Then I proceeded to the Verizon store to use their phone, called my gf (at the time) and drove to the house I shared with 6 other FB guys.
Packed up all my stuff in my CRX, smoked a 1/2 pack of cigarettes on the balcony and drove to my friend Johnny’s place. It took me a bit to let my mum know and I slept on Johnny’s couch for a few days, thanks J!
Later that night we had a bbq at this place and everyone was asking me how the job was going….#awkward
I kept drinking that night to pass out and pray this was all a bad dream.
At that time, here’s the order of what was important in my life:
3- Food / Shelter
4- My gf
To spell it out. Facebook was my entire life.
My social circle, my validation, my identity and everything was tied to this company.
How could have ended up like this?
WTF! I just got a promotion and a raise 2 months before!
This was my first time being fired and it took me 1 year to get over the depression…
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