How Netflix builds a culture of excellence | Elizabeth Stone (CTO)

Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career

Feb 22 2024 • 1 hr 13 mins

Elizabeth Stone is the chief technology officer of Netflix. She previously served as vice president of product data science and engineering, and as vice president of data and insights, at Netflix. Before Netflix, Elizabeth was vice president of science at Lyft, chief operating officer at Nuna, a trader at Merrill Lynch, and an economist at Analysis Group. In our conversation, we discuss:

• Elizabeth’s advice for career advancement

• Netflix’s unique high-performance culture

• How, and why, Netflix maintains a high bar for excellence

• Intentional leadership practices

• How to foster an “open door” culture within your team

• The Keeper Test and how it contributes to maintaining a high bar for excellence

• The power of transparent communication

• Much more

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In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Elizabeth’s background

(04:36) Life as CTO vs. VP of Data

(05:57) The role of economists in tech companies

(08:32) Using economics to understand incentives

(10:07) Success and career growth

(20:15) Setting expectations

(25:02) Advice for how to avoid burnout

(27:44) Netflix culture: high talent density

(30:31) Netflix culture: candor and directness

(31:45) The Keeper Test

(39:01) Maintaining a high bar for excellence

(43:54) Netflix culture: freedom and responsibility

(46:18) Unconventional processes at Netflix

(47:55) Examples of candor

(51:44) Data and insights team structure

(01:00:12) Staying close to teams

(01:02:31) Advice on being present

(01:07:40) Lightning round


• What to Know About the Netflix Cup, Today’s First-Ever Live Sports Event:

• Ann Miura Ko interview | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast):

• Netflix culture:

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention:

• Reed Hastings on LinkedIn:

• Netflix’s “Keeper Test” and Why You Need It | Lorne Rubis:

The Hunger Games:

• Nan Yu on LinkedIn:

• Work Life Philosophy:

• The Scoop: Netflix’s historic introduction of levels for software engineers:

• Chaos Monkey:

• Ali Rauh on LinkedIn:

• Keith Henwood on LinkedIn:

• Jeff Bezos’ Morning Routine of Puttering Around—How It Works:

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir:

A Fine Balance:

Triangle of Sadness on Hulu:

Beef on Netflix:

• Fellow pour-over coffee set:

• Peloton bikes:

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