Reflections on 4 years at Spotify

Reflections on 4 years at Spotify

I spent 4.5 years at Spotify, 🎵🎵

Four reflections on my experiences.

1️⃣ Every Company has problems, even your heroes.

I lost count of the people I interviewed, especially coaches, who wanted to "come and see perfection." as if that were possible.

One example was while we were doubling in size every 9 months.
I knew someone who, before they'd even started, had 3 different managers.

Things were moving so fast that stabilizing anything was hard.

Perhaps you're surprised that it wasn't all magic and ponies?

My advice: consider which problems are most interesting to you.
Join a company that has these.

2️⃣ It's possible to have too much Autonomy.

Anyone who's watched young children playing football knows the chaos of everyone charging after whatever they choose. Now imagine this multiplied by many offices, countries, and teams.

The hard part of building effective organizations is effectively channeling their capabilities through carefully balancing Autonomy and Alignment.

Too controlled, and nothing new or valuable ever gets invented. If you fall short on alignment, you'll miss the incredible impact of full-scale collaboration and only achieve team-sized effects.

3️⃣ The best way to get hired is to be lucky.

I met many folks who tried 3+ times before getting in the door. Companies like Spotify get so many applicants it's easy to slip through the cracks.

If you don't get it the first time, ask for feedback and try again.

4️⃣ Cultural differences are both profound and challenging.

Most of my teams came from every continent.

So, I can insult you in 20+ dialects and say "Skål" in 20 more. Even explored the local rituals of getting engaged, starting a business, and dying.

Things I never imagined.

Experiencing these differences and nuances taught me the benefit of uncovering the variety of what we assume is "standard" or "expected".

Even when you think we're very similar.

With all new groups, I now invest time in establishing what's essential for each individual to do their best work.

We discuss and agree on what should always happen, what is unacceptable, and where we'll compromise.


This experience of moving to Sweden 🇸🇪profoundly enhanced my understanding of healthy leadership habits, what high performance looks like, and society at large.

And I'd like to explore many more stories and reflections with you.

I plan to continue sharing what I'm learning with the intent of helping you build better teams, organizations, and communities.


PS, In celebration of crossing 10k followers on Monday 🎉, I've re-written this: my first popular post.

If you've found my stories helpful, I'd appreciate you amplifying 👍 this with a repost

Thank you from the bottom of my heart 💖for joining and supporting me on this journey. 🙏

Remove your growth pains of Scaling Up

Receive exclusive posts on Leadership Growth, Scaling Up, and improving your org design.

Cliff Hazell - Remove your growth pains of Scaling Up

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Cliff Hazell - Remove your growth pains of Scaling Up.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.