Yujin and I worked together for four years at Conde Nast and then for another four years at The New York Times. We have been friends and colleagues for twelve years. I witnessed Yujin grow from an engineering lead to CTO of WorkMarket. Yujin is an excellent engineering leader, a meticulous manager, and a caring collaborator.
I am honored that Yujin mentioned me in his article (and I feel lucky that my name happened to appear first, even though his other mentors are more accomplished than I am.)
Dear Family and Friends, I’m moving into an exciting new job at News Corp, the parent company of my current employer, The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. Below are the announcements from Matt Murray, Editor-In-Chief of The Wall Street Journal & Dow Jones Newswires; and from Ramin Beheshti, Group Chief Product & Technology Officer of Dow Jones. The announcement from Matt was reported on earlier at other sites and the announcement from Ramin is shared here with permission.
Announcement from Matt Murray, Editor-In-Chief of The Wall Street Journal & Dow Jones Newswires
Feb 20, 2019
Most of you will have seen by now the exciting news that Rajiv Pant has been promoted to a new role as Deputy Chief Technology Officer at News Corp. This is great news for him and for the newsroom; I expect he will continue to be actively involved with us going forward and will help facilitate the next stages of tech development. In just two years as our CTO, Rajiv has been a transformative presence, bringing in a great many new talents and helping our products and technical capabilities march forward on many fronts. Thanks to him, product, design and engineering have been ever more central to the newsroom–as they must be for our continued success.
Rajiv will be with us for several more weeks before moving upstairs to his fancy new digs, and we’ll soon share plans on how we will advance the work he has undertaken. In the meantime, please join me in congratulating him and thanking him for all he’s accomplished here.
Announcement from Ramin Beheshti, Group Chief Product & Technology Officer, Dow Jones
Feb 20, 2019
As you may have read earlier today in Marc Frons’ announcement, Rajiv Pant has been promoted to the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of News Corp, reporting to Marc.
Over the last two years, Rajiv has helped transform WSJ Technology. He reimagined what it means to be a team, by bringing together the Product, Design and Engineering groups. He also evolved how we measure our successes by promoting OKRs across the department and built a stronger, more open relationship between the Newsroom and Technology.
While he is going upstairs, he won’t be out of reach. In his new role, Rajiv will help drive global digital product and technology initiatives, and continue to work closely with many of us across the department. He will also focus on developing innovation and culture, sharing many of the great ideas from his time at Dow Jones with the rest of the News Corp family. I’m excited to see what he accomplishes in this new role.
Rajiv will officially transition to his new role over the coming weeks. Please join me in thanking him for all his contributions to Dow Jones and WSJ Technology. He has truly been a valued member of my Technology Leadership Team and I am delighted to have another strong partner at News Corp.
GROUP CHIEF PRODUCT & TECHNOLOGY OFFICER DOW JONES
Many books on leadership are like fairy tales: Inspiring, but misleading about leadership that is actually effective in our real world. Real leadership — i.e. leadership based on evidence and science, and thus statistically more likely be effective in practice — is less commonly found in leadership teachings. Instead, what we often hear is “feel good leadership” that sounds good, but is often ineffective, or worse, counterproductive at worst.
Few books open our eyes by revealing truths hiding in plain sight. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is one. Leadership B.S. by Jeff Pfeffer is another.
Many books, lessons, and word-of-mouth teachings about leadership are misleading, misrepresentative of real world experience, and based on feel-good ideals. There are five reasons why several things we are taught about leadership and management are wrong.
Lack of Rigor — Many leadership lessons based on someone’s experience are not based on a systematic analysis of complete data, comprehensive understanding of circumstances, and other available options at the time. What worked for the winner may be simply chance (luck), weakness of the opposition, or insufficiently acknowledged help from others. ·
Before and After — The behaviors that lead a person to a powerful leadership position are often not the same as the good qualities the person assumes later in life after they are already successful. Take the case of Bill Gates, who as a competitive businessman was a different person from the kind, caring philanthropist he is today.
Delusion — Human beings have a positive, good impressions of ourselves that are often not accurate. Studies have shown that about 80% of people believe they are better car drivers than average, better looking than average, and better human beings than others. The Overconfidence effect and above average effect are well documented. How a successful leader feels they act (morally) is often quite different from what they actually do based on observation.
Deception — Human beings, especially successful ones, lie, mislead, and often don’t give away their coveted secrets that given them their competitive edge. There is plenty of scientific evidence that lying is a common daily habit.
Leaving a Legacy — Many leadership books and articles are written to make the author look good, to build a good reputation and brand for the leader, and to make money. They are not primarily written for the purpose of making other people successful, even if the author thinks so. This could be due to delusion, deception, or a bit of both.
For the above reasons, my friend Jeff Pfeffer and I sometimes say that most leadership books and products should be labeled like packs of cigarettes: “Warning: This information will make you feel good in the short term, but is likely to be harmful to your effectiveness, career, and well-being.”
So how should you minimize your time and effort wasted learning ineffective leadership and management methods that are likely to backfire?
I highly recommend reading the excellent book Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford University. It was finalist for the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year and Best business book of the week selected by Inc.com. This book will help you identify real and effective leadership and management lessons based on evidence that are more likely to work than platitudes.
Disclosure: In the acknowledgements section of this book, Professor Pfeffer writes:
This book was inspired in part by my interactions with Rajiv Pant. It was Rajiv who first used the phrase “feel-good leadership literature.” It was Rajiv who provided some of the stories and examples incorporated in this book. But mostly it was Rajiv Pant who helped me see how much damage was occurring because of the current incarnation of the leadership industry. Rajiv’s support and friendship mean a great deal, not only for this book but in my life.
Pfeffer, Jeffrey. Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time (pp. 221-222). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
This version 3 includes software engineering & architecture, quality assurance & test engineering, data science & engineering, infrastructure & systems engineering, product & product management, and design & user experience. This version moves “chief” and “head of” type titles to the discretionary column, keeping only four main levels (contributor, manager, director, and vice president) with three sub-levels designating seniority within each.
This is presented in a Google Sheet embedded below with tabs containing areas like engineering and product. I’m also providing a direct link to to the Google Sheet you can copy and edit for use in your own organization.
This isn’t something I thought I’d be writing – if you read my recent piece on Thrive Journal, you’d know how excited I was to join Thrive Global. I’d long admired Arianna, and when we met it was immediately clear that we share so much: mission, values, a dedication to science-based approaches – along with a lot of common friends and even our foreign accents. And I wrote about the twist of fate – several twists, in fact, that it took to bring me to Thrive.
And now life has thrown me another twist, which is that I’ve just accepted a job as Chief Product & Technology Officer at The Wall Street Journal. It was an emotionally difficult decision – when I joined Thrive I felt then, and still do, that living my life by the Thrive principles and helping others do the same was my calling.
Working with the team at Thrive has been everything I thought it would be, and has only deepened my passion for the mission. And personally, it’s been especially rewarding working with Arianna. We hit it off right away and that’s only continued since. I’ve learned so much from her that I’ll take with me in my life ahead. Most of all, her incredible ability to connect warmly and authentically with everybody around her — not just about their work, but about their lives away from the office. You don’t just join the team, you become part of a family. And that’s why this was such an emotional decision.
But this role at The Wall Street Journal is no ordinary opportunity, and I certainly wouldn’t be leaving if it were. There were several considerations: this is a newly created position and represents the culmination of what I’ve been working towards my entire career. It’s also a chance to reunite with several former co-workers who have remained dear friends. In the end, after a lot of persuasion, and an opportunity too good to refuse, I decided to make the move.
I’m excited, but also sad to leave. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built at Thrive Global. In three months we launched a media platform, a behavior change platform, an e-learning site, an e-commerce site and a number of specialty apps, including for Android, iOS, Amazon Alexa, and Chrome.
I am incredibly grateful not only for what I’ve learned but also for the friendships I’ve built and that I know will continue. And I’m especially grateful to Arianna for bringing me into Thrive and into her extended family. If I’ve learned one thing from this experience it’s that we never know what twists of fate the future may bring, but what I do know is that incorporating our Thrive principles into my daily life and my work at The Wall Street Journal will make both me and my colleagues healthier, happier and more productive.
Sometimes in life, we reach a new starting line where we sense that everything we have experienced and done so far has been preparing us for this next step. When I met Arianna Huffington and we talked about her new venture, Thrive Global, I immediately knew I wanted Thrive to be the next chapter in my life. Before I tell you why, let me give you some background.
Since I left The New York Times, I’ve been through a learning journey in my professional and personal life. I joined a promising startup full-time pledging 20% of my equity to charity. When the venture funding I had hoped for didn’t materialize, I transitioned to an advisory role and continue to root for their success. I co-founded a consulting business which led to a client asking me to join full-time to build their team in New York City. In a twist of fate, soon after I joined and hired some exceptional talent, the company had a change in ownership and asked us all to move to Los Angeles. While the relocation offer was compelling, I couldn’t bear the thought of being so far away from Fitz Raj, my 4-year-old son. My (now former) wife Julie and I had recently separated. If you think persuading your spouse to move the family across the country is hard, imagine trying to convince your ex-spouse. Yes, I tried because LA offers great opportunities in her line of work. No, she politely declined.
If you think persuading your spouse to move the family across the country is hard, imagine trying to convince your ex-spouse.
So, I decided to return to my consulting practice in NYC. While I was consulting, two well-known, highly-respected companies asked me to join them full-time. While I was mulling over whether to join one of them as CTO & chief product officer or to continue building my consulting business, I was invited to a party. It was there I met Arianna for the first time and we talked about Thrive. It was the professional equivalent of love at first sight.
We found numerous connections we had in common: mission, shared values, the scientific evidence based approach, former colleagues, friends, and foreign accents. Arianna had even spent some time studying at Santiniketan Visva-Bharati University in India, where my grandmother Jayanti Devi Pant had studied for her advanced degrees under Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. (My grandma was reasonably fluent in eleven languages, a family record I can only surpass if I count programming languages.)
Meeting Arianna and discussing Thrive was the professional equivalent of love at first sight.
What makes a great match? Why do we work?
When you seek to join an organization, you should look for three things:
Do you support the organization’s mission?
Do you have the skills, experience, and knowledge to help the organization succeed?
Do you fit into the organization’s and your team’s culture?
They are three dimensions to help determine the location where you should be. In Thrive Global, my answer to all these is a strong yes, and I also found spiritual connections that transcend them.
Even before I learned about the company Thrive Global, I have passionately believed in the practical wisdom that Arianna’s works present, practice and teach. Having had my own wake up calls, I’ve worked to incorporate some of these lessons in my life and work, and I’ve championed them to colleagues, friends, and family.
In her book, Arianna describes coincidences as “life’s secret door to wonder”. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer referred to coincidences as “wonderful pre-established harmony.”
Two months later, I received another message from Melanie: “Hi Rajiv! So great to see you last week! I read again about [Arianna Huffington’s] new venture and thought of you. Looks so interesting and I’m sure she can use your help!” This time she included a link to an NYTimes article about Thrive.
A few days later, an invite to a speakeasy-themed party showed up in my Inbox. What caught my cybersecurity-enthusiast brain’s attention was it said you needed a password to get in.
During our interviews at Arianna’s home, I also had conversations with her coworkers, family, and friends. She greatly values a personal connection in additional to professional experience. After all, as a CEO, she needs people she can rely on.
Like most CEOs, Arianna looks for competence, skills, experience, knowledge, and cultural fit when interviewing candidates. However, I found that for critical roles, she also looks for a spiritual kind of personal connection: Someone who shares her values, but also brings complementary traits; Someone she can trust, but who also has the courage to disagree with her. Someone who is kind at heart, but one you don’t want to mess with. I fit right in.
Working with her for four months has upheld what I had initially felt about Arianna’s leadership style. She sets a high bar, demands excellence, and does not hesitate to be direct and tough but she respects, empowers, and supports teammates who earn her trust. She respects and defers to others’ expertise. As a fellow human being and as a friend, she genuinely cares about the well-being of other people. Despite being a well-respected and well-liked celebrity CEO with power, I’ve experienced firsthand that she has both the humbleness and courage to apologize to someone in her team.
I met Arianna on a Thursday evening. Following intense conversations about work and life and reference checks over the next three days, I started full-time at Thrive the following Monday before either side had signed any papers. Genuine trust beats legal contracts any day of the week, twice on a Sunday. Yes, my longtime employment attorney couldn’t believe it either.
I met Arianna for the first time on a Thursday evening and started as CTO at Thrive the following Monday.
I feel that I serendipitously found the job that is my calling. After all, the party where I met Arianna required the password ‘Intentional Serendipity’ to get in.
Genuine trust beats legal contracts any day of the week, twice on a Sunday.
It seemed the ancient Greek and Hindu Gods had rigged the decision in both Thrive’s and my favor. Which reminds of something Arianna said to me quoting the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi. “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.”
“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” – Rumi
Besides serendipity, there are rational reasons why I feel Thrive is my calling.
5 Reasons why Thrive Global connects with me
Feel – I’ve felt passionate about this mission since long before I had heard of Thrive. My family, friends, and I personally experience the problems in this world that Thrive aims to solve. I’ve always wanted to work in a job where we aim to help anyone and everyone, not a select demographic. Thrive fits the bill.
Improve – During the past year, I faced tough challenges in my personal and professional life. Thrive principles are the way for me to improve using behavior change science. Continuous personal development is necessary to be able to thrive in life and work. Application of behavioral, social, and cognitive science is necessary to bridge the knowing-doing gap.
Learn directly from Arianna. She accomplished multiple great successes while facing life’s challenges and imperfections.
Evangelize – Be a public face and spokesperson for something I deeply care about: Thrive Global’s concepts and the science supporting them.
Grow professionally in and beyond product, technology, and design. Master organizational culture, well-being, and productivity. Gain the most effective, science-backed skills to manage organizations, teams, and myself.
Application of behavioral, social, and cognitive science is necessary to bridge the knowing-doing gap.
As an engineer, I have a strong preference for data, and Thrive’s scientific approach with evidence based learning resonates with me.
As a technologist, I am concerned that we are more worried about recharging our devices, than recharging ourselves.
That brings me to what organizations should do to succeed. There must be a clear, well-known, and good primary reason behind every product, service, and project.
3 ‘M’s: Why we do projects at Thrive Global
Mission: Thrive Global’s mission is to end the epidemic of stress and burnout by offering companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance both well-being and performance.
Money: To be successful in its mission, Thrive needs to make substantial and recurring revenues and be profitable.
Marketing: To achieve the first two, Thrive needs to continuously become increasingly well-known, widely-respected, and highly influential.
All work should primarily support one of the 3 ‘M’s: mission, money, or marketing.
Where we go from here
Practicing what one preaches is often hard. I have a long way to go in my own journey and won’t pretend I have already incorporated the practice of most of the Thrive principles in my own life. If it were that simple, you wouldn’t need Thrive Global as a company. Everyone could just buy Arianna’s book and need nothing more.
There are no shortcuts to success, but there are microsteps.
In the book, Arianna writes “The second truth is that we’re all going to veer away from that place [of being centered] again and again. That’s the nature of life. […] The question is how quickly we can get back to that centered place of wisdom, harmony, and strength.”
As Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
There are no shortcuts to success, but there are microsteps.
The New York Times Company
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
[phone and email redacted]
July 27, 2015
Mr. Rajiv Pant
New York, NY 10019
I am writing to extend to you my congratulations on your position at Some Spider and to thank you for the excellent job you did at The New York Times over your four years with us.
Your insight and expertise were enormously valuable as we built the technology needed to launch and grow our digital business. And, your eye for talent helped us to fill our ranks with top developers and technologists. The spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm you brought to your work will surely live on.
As you may know, I have accepted an offer to join a startup on June 1st, and therefore have made the difficult decision to leave The New York Times, an organization I have loved being part of for the past four years, and a brand I have admired all my life. I will continue to be a loyal reader, vocal supporter and paying subscriber.
I care deeply about The New York Times. Let me know any way I can be helpful. I remain personally invested in your continued success.
Working with you has been an honor, a pleasure, and a learning experience for me. I would love to stay in touch. You can connect with me on social networks and find my contact info via rajiv.com.
Over the past four years, many of you have become close friends to me. The Times building has felt like my second home. I will leave with fond memories of being part of this wonderful institution.
Paraphrasing Leonard Nimoy’s farewell Tweet:
A career is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.
Live long and prosper.
On Mon, May 4, 2015 at 12:21 PM, Marc Frons wrote:
I am writing to let you know that our CTO Rajiv Pant is leaving The Times to join a startup focusing on community, commerce and content, where he will be heading up technology, product and design. Rajiv told me he has long wanted to be an entrepreneur, and this new position gives him the opportunity to roll up his sleeves and help a startup he co-owns become a successful business.
In his four years at The Times, Rajiv has made an invaluable contribution to the company. He has played a leading role in building and managing the technology behind the growth of our digital business, and the expansion of our mobile and data science teams. Always a magnet for top talent, Rajiv’s proteges can be found in every area of the technology department. Most of all, he has been an unflagging champion of the culture of technology innovation at The Times, and a model of collaboration and good cheer.
Rajiv has agreed to stay on for the next two to four weeks to aid in the transition and help in the search for his successor. Although we are sad to see him go, we wish him every success with this new venture. Regards,
This second version of the diagram illustrating technical career tracks reflects the following updates since version one:
A product management track is now included. (Future updates may include other tracks like design, editorial and marketing.)
There is no longer a contributor-level position on the people-management track. This is because most organizations do not have an entry-level position whose main job is to manage people yet is below the manager level.
The number of levels is still 5, but we have merged the two contributor levels below manager into one. We have added the C-level (as in CEO, CTO, CFO, …) band above the VP levels.
The director-level position in the technology track is now called principal architect or simply principal.
In the people management track, we suggest that a manager directly supervise at least 3 contributors and that a director supervise at least 3 managers. Exceptions can be made to this guideline when it is well-justified, but these are suggested as the default requirement to hold these titles.
The diagram below illustrates some pathways for career development in an engineering-focussed product development organization. It shows an organization where software engineering is a major discipline. The pathways shown here map out career paths that we have seen work well in a number of organizations. (There are also other pathways that work well that are not shown here, for example from VP Engineering to VP Product.)
Shorter paths (fewer arrows along the way) do not indicate a quicker career growth path. To the contrary, often gaining experience in multiple areas helps develop as a well-rounded executive prepared for senior leadership roles.
Certain roles are not listed explicitly but are combined into other roles in this illustration. For example, the roles of Security are merged into Systems in this view. Also, roles like Senior Engineer and Lead Engineer are not shown separately, but covered by Engineer and Engineering Manager. Similarly, Senior Manager and Senior Director are also not shown separately. Incorporating that level of detail would have significantly increased the complexity and decreased the readability of the diagram.