This is such a great essay! I think you nailed it with the importance of having a purpose and an accompanying narrative that expresses it. Far and away, the key to finding great people — not only in terms of ability, but also in terms of being a joy to work with — is having a mission that goes beyond metrics and money and awards. If people are strictly focused on themselves and their own glory, that wears thin quickly, no matter how talented they may be. But when they concentrate on doing something beyond themselves, it’s amazing how that’ll bring out the best. For decades, most creatively-oriented people wound up going to advertising agencies, where the emphasis was typically on awards and industry-based prestige. Few people were ever really happy with that, even if they won tons of awards. Then we entered this era where you could join a tech company and just make a boatload of cash…also not fulfilling. I think that now, it’s the mission-driven, purpose-laden organizations that will be most successful. Perhaps I’m naively optimistic, but I don’t think so.
For what it’s worth, I think the business-side, less-visible tools that Facebook has are brilliant. Out of pure curiosity last year I looked at the process of building ads and campaigns and was mesmerized by how well-designed and engineered the experience was. All of that is just as, if not more interesting than the consumer-facing work.
Also, really appreciate how you deliberately formatted this essay. It’s a fun read, but easily scanned. Nice design work there ;-)