Jeff Weiner: the Origins, Being Purpose-Driven, and his Work at LinkedIn


Jeff Winer LinkedIn
An in depth conversation between Re/Code Kara Swisher and LinkedIn CEO by Jeff Weiner that covers the early days of his career, his conversations with his father, and how each successive job eventually led to the CEO post at the social network.

Weiner spotted the rise of convergence of digital, media, and education, etc. early on – circa 1994 – and thought “it was going to completely change the way many industries would manifest themselves.” He says:

In the cover letter, I mentioned that I was of the belief that it was going to be content that was increasingly going to create value and not necessarily the technology itself. The content would be the differentiator.

That there were people who were overseeing media conglomerates at the time — Michael Eisner, Steve Ross would have been a model, Ted Turner, folks like Terry Semel. And I wrote to my dad — I realize how unlikely and opportunity that would be — but if I had an opportunity to work with someone like that I would have the opportunity to combine both a strong business acumen, and a sense of how to create content that people want to consume.

His advice on how to become successful — “it needs to start with what ultimately you want to accomplish.” About LinkedIn, Weiner says he saw the opportunity to democratize access to information as well as access to economic opportunity.

It’s worth watching to understand not just how LinkedIn thinks about content, social, and media for the platform to help people connect for professional opportunities, but also how the network is thinking about content distribution and relevancy. 

Key points about the helping people connect to opportunity: 

(1.) connect to other professionals — a tool to create a network and keep in touch with people professionally, following the right companies, providing access to job opportunities, access to investment for entrepreneurs, access for sales opportunities, ability to research sources for journalists, etc.

(2.) stay informed through professional news and knowledge (information with greater context) — by virtue of seeing who people are connected to, you can see what they are sharing in professional context that would create value for others; then the influencers’ platform was born. It started with 500 people who had experience and wisdom to share and were interested in sharing what they learned. The publishing platform was then opened up to more than 200 million people. (Pulse acquisition)

(3.) acquire new skills – helping people bridge their potential gaps based on historical data on skills and opportunities people aspire to. In addition to and SlideShare (acquisitions), they will work with third parties, too. The idea here is to create one’s own compendium of knowledge (see, for example, Clipping feature on SlideShare) and associate identity with it.

When challenged about how LinkedIn is trying to keep people on the platform, Weiner says “there’s a big difference between satisfying a business objective and trying to understand who you are creating value for.”

Talking about media, Weiner comments on fragmentation taking attention away from publishers’ sites and how people consume articles ad hoc. About relevancy, he mentions three approaches and how they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Key means of distribution and relevancy:

  1. machine learning – e.g., like Google
  2. social cues OS – we are hard-wired to see what others say and read
  3. media curation OS – includes taste and experience; maybe Artificial Intelligence (AI) will move into this area in the future, but for now people are still delivering greater value

The last ten minutes include comments / predictions on other social networks and tools as well as LinkedIn’s footprint in China and , the company’s presence in San Francisco.

When asked what he would do if he weren’t at LinkedIn, Weiner said he would start something like for helping teach people compassion.

Watch the full interview below.

This started as a short LinkedIn update.


[Hat tip Fred Wilson]

Conversation Agent – Valeria Maltoni


The Secret to Effortless Writing: Jeff Goins on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]


Jeff Goins is the best-selling author of four books: You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing, Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams Into your Comfortable Life, and his latest, The Art of Work.

He frequently speaks on writing, creativity, and making a difference. His website,, has been visited by more than four million people from all over the world.

He’s also an instructor in this year’s MarketingProfs Marketing Writing Bootcamp! He’ll teach “Writing With Your Reader in Mind: The Secret to Effortless Writing That Gets Results.”

I invited Jeff to Marketing Smarts to talk about writing (for marketing and otherwise), and to share a process for finding life purpose, as covered in his latest book, The Art of Work.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

If you don’t have an audience, write to yourself (08:15): “When you’re first starting, it’s really hard to know who’s listening. I think you have one of two options. The first is to write for somebody who’s already reading you. Could be your spouse, a friend, whatever. Somebody that recognizes that you have something to say, and they want to listen to it. If that’s not an option… then I think the second option is to—at least initially—write for yourself. Now, here’s what I don’t mean by that: Don’t just write whatever you want to write and hope that people care about it. Write for yourself from five years ago.

“Write to yourself, not for yourself. When I started my blog, I [said] ‘I’m in my late 20s, what advice would I have for myself just starting out in my career? What have I learned about writing that would save somebody a few years of time?’ And I just started sharing that stuff on my blog…. And as I was writing for that past self, really what I was building was that idea of an avatar: ‘This is the type of person that I’m writing for, somebody who doesn’t love marketing, they don’t completely understand technology, but they understand that putting your words online is a great way to get your message heard.’ I, who had been a marketing director at this point, understood online marketing, understood social media, and also understood writing and the aspirations and ambitions and also the challenges of being a writer. So I tried to write for that person, the young, starting-out writer.”

Writing isn’t easy, but it can be effortless (10:03): “The secret [to effortless writing] is practice…. When you start out, it is very, very hard. Practice is painful, and yet, as you get going, you build muscle and it becomes easier and easier. I wrote a blog post once called ‘The Secret to Effortless Writing,’ and in that blog post I make the distinction that there’s a difference between easy and effortless…. Easy means the thing itself is inherently without friction. It’s just easy. It’s just an easy task. ‘Effortless,’ for me, is about doing the work so that it becomes second nature.

“The secret to effortless writing is to do it really hard and painfully for a while, and do it again and again and again over time to the point where it no longer requires effort to start. I’m not saying it’s not hard. I’m not saying that at times I don’t get tripped up… but most days… I open my laptop and I write 500 words without even really thinking about it…. Without that discipline, I would be lost.”

To find your life’s purpose, don’t just “follow your passion” (28:35): “When I talk to people about the work that they’re doing, about the life that they’re living, most people feel stuck. Most people feel like they’re not doing what they’re meant to be doing or they’re not fulfilling their purpose, or they don’t even know what that is. I think saying ‘just quit your job’ or ‘just follow your passion…’ I think that’s incomplete advice…. I wanted a practical process that also honored the mystery of ‘man, lucky breaks will come and random things will happen, and you’ll fail, but then that failure will lead to a success.’ And these things aren’t things that you can plan, but you can prepare for.

“And so, I wrote [The Art of Work], like I started the blog, for 20-year-old me. On the other end of building a blog and getting published as an author, and figuring out how to build out this portfolio of skills that allowed me to make a living doing this full time. Really going through a three-year transition that really lasted more like seven years…. Looking back, I go, ‘Oh yeah, that all makes sense.’ If somebody could have given me this road map, this path, ahead of time, it would have made things so much easier, and each step, each question, each obstacle and struggle would have made a lot more sense.”

To learn more, visit or follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffGoins. And get your copy of The Art of Work at

Jeff and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by Igloo Software.

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Special thanks to production company Candidio, an efficient, affordable video production platform allowing marketers and communicators to collaborate and curate video content, with help from a team of professional, on-demand video editors for the finishing touches. Check them out!

Show opener music credit: Noam Weinstein.

This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is instructional design manager, enterprise training, at MarketingProfs. She’s also a speaker, writer, attorney, and educator. She hosts and produces the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. To contact Kerry about being a guest on Marketing Smarts, send her an email, or you can find her on Twitter (@KerryGorgone), Google+, and her personal blog.

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