Let’s Fix Work Episode 75

This week I’d like to introduce you to Julie Zhuo. Julie is the VP of Product Design at Facebook and the author of the new book, The Making of a Manager: What To Do When Everyone Looks to You. Julie was also the first ever intern at Facebook in 2006. Yes, that’s right! And now she’s VP of Product Design. It’s her job to make Facebook look great.

I first met Julie almost a year ago at the Watermark Conference for Women in Silicon Valley, an event where a bunch of smart, powerful, and successful women come together to brainstorm how to take over the world. I joined Julie for a panel about “managing up,” which is basically making the people ahead of you or above you, on the organizational chart, happier. During our conversation, I was excited to learn she was writing a book about managers and knew immediately I wanted to have her on the podcast as a guest when her book came out. And, well, here we are!

On today’s episode, Julie and I talk about the difference between managers and leaders, as well as organizational trust. Plus, we tackle a topic that we’ve tackled on the show before, but Julie has some pretty specific ideas around it; and that’s feedback. So if you’re interested in hearing about managers, leaders, and some nuanced ideas about feedback, then sit back and listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  1. What inspired Julie to write the book, “Making of a Manager” 
  2. Why people overcomplicate the world of management
  3. How and why the lines between manager and therapist seem to be blurred these days
  4. The difference between leadership and management 
  5. About the point in Julie’s career when she moved from manager to leader and how she knew she actually made the jump
  6. The three things that managers should be thinking about about every day
  7. How Julie’s book can be helpful for professionals who don’t have access to management or leadership training; plus she answers the question, “Do you need to take classes in order to be a good manager?”
  8. About how our culture doesn’t know how to give feedback, discerning the good from the bad, and what great feedback looks like



Management is a role; it’s a job. It has a particular set of responsibilities. Your job is to help a group of people, your team, get to great outcomes and objectives that you’ve defined. Like any role, it can be given to you, it can be bestowed to you, and it can be taken away from you. 

Leadership is not a role. Leadership is a quality. Leaders can be managers or they can be non-managers. For managers to be effective, they should exhibit qualities of great leadership. A leader is somebody who others want to follow. It’s somebody who takes initiative. It’s somebody who identifies a problem and rallies a group of people towards that problem to solve it. Leadership means you’re the kind of person that others want to listen to and they want to follow.


There are three areas or “major bucket of tools’’ as Julie likes to refer to them, that managers should be focusing on daily. The first is people. Most important of all of the things is ensuring that you’re bringing the right people onto the team. Oftentimes, that includes hiring and recruiting. It’s thinking about how to coach the current people on your team and ensuring that their strengths are amplified across the team. It’s also doing things like performance management, giving feedback, helping people adjust their behavior. 

The second bucket is all around process. An example Julie provides is this, “If you have an orchestra and you’ve got the right violinists and you’ve got the right percussion players; you still need to make sure that everyone knows how to work together and how to play music together. That means you need to make sure that the right processes are in place, that everyone knows how to read the cues from the conductor, and everyone knows where to sit, so nobody’s blocking each other’s views.” If there’s a conflict, what should people do? How do you resolve that? That’s all about defining good processes. 

And the last bucket is all around purpose. That’s making sure that every single one of the people on your team has the same understanding of what success looks like. To continue with the orchestra example above, it’s ensuring that everyone has the same sheet music. If you have talented people and they know how to work together, but they don’t have the same picture of what success looks like, you’re still going to get conflict. Purpose becomes more and more important as the organization or the team gets bigger and bigger. Because once you have dozens of people, hundreds or thousands, who all have a slightly different perspective of what success looks like; they’re not going to be working together as efficiently as they could be.


Great feedback is simply feedback that changes you in a way that later on you’re grateful for and that you believe made your life better. It inspires us to make a change that we feel proud of. We’re happier for having known that and being able to make that change. A lot of times we think we should only give feedback if something isn’t working or if something is broken or if somebody did something that was a mistake or it shouldn’t be done in the future. Feedback doesn’t have to be critical or negative. Feedback can be somebody recognizing that you are really great at this thing.

Resources from this episode:

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

Power Players: the most important Facebook execs you’ve never heard of

Julie Zhuo’s morning routine

Julie Zhuo on LinkedIn

Julie’s website

Watermark Conference for Women

Laurie on Instagram 

Read more from Laurie

Work with Laurie


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