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10 executive lessons from Waze CEO Noam Bardin

August 27, 2020

7 min read

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10 executive lessons from Waze CEO Noam Bardin10 executive lessons from Waze CEO Noam Bardin

For many years prior to the pandemic, I had the privilege of interviewing tech entrepreneurs and CEOs in front of an audience of entrepreneurs and investors on stage as part of my monthly Startups Uncensored event in Southern California. I relived this series of quarantine conversations for a virtual audience with executives from Mattel, Zoom Video, Chipotle, and Qualtrics C-suite executives and recently partnered with them to present a new series. Here I hold virtual meetings with CEOs of global brands to discuss their hard-to-learn real-life lessons and practical career advice they learned on their journey up.

I was thrilled to start this new series with Noam Bardin, CEO of Waze. We discussed how the startup became a global phenomenon, its vision of the benefits of shared vehicle as the autonomous vehicles getting closer and closer to reality, some of the most important lessons you learned in the beginning and some of the painful processes that come with growing.

Named one of the 100 stars of Silicon Valley by Business InsiderBardin has been CEO of Waze since March 2009 and, thanks to the acquisition by Google in June 2013, made the company one of the most talked about startups in the world. He continues to lead the global Waze team within Google so that Wazers can drive faster and safer around the world, including the recently launched Waze carpooling so drivers and passengers can work together to finish the traffic. Prior to Waze, Bardin was a co-founder of the international VoIP service provider Deltathree, where he held various management positions for 10 years.

Here are 10 key takeaways from the highly informative conversation I had with this passionate advocate of changing the way we use cars to make our lives easier:

1. People want to do the right thing, but are sometimes lazy

It is important to find a balance. When Waze started, it faced this challenge as its basemap wasn’t very sophisticated. Users participated to deepen and develop the map. The simplification and fun for users helped encourage participation.

Bardin has been CEO of Waze since March 2009 / Image: Depositphotos.com

2. Early adopters are not always helpful in identifying the needs of the public

Finding early adopters is a difficult but achievable process. When you bridge the gap between first-time adopters and a general audience, it becomes difficult for a product designer as early adopters may have a passion for certain features that are inconsistent with the features that most users are looking for. .

3. Often times, failure takes as much work as success

The workload of a failed company is usually the same as that of a successful company. That is why it is vital that you enjoy what you are doing, even when you fail.

4. As an entrepreneur, you often have to choose between two equally good ideas

You need to know how to choose in a situation where both options are bright and valuable, and this requires extreme clarity on your mission. If you have a clear mission and all of your employees know where they are on that mission, this can be a valuable tool. It makes it easier to say no to ideas that may be valuable but are not right in the moment.

5. During the growth process, you may need to say goodbye to the people who helped build your business.

Often there is no other option, and that’s because you can’t run a large company based on the infrastructure of a 20-person startup. Some people may be up to the challenge while others are more successful in a smaller organization.

6. You have time in your twenties to experiment with jobs and find your passions

Don’t worry so much about your career path at this early stage. Focus on the moment rather than where you will be in 20 years.

7. Customers use carpools for different reasons than in the pre-COVID-19 world

Waze’s business has resumed its pace following the changes due to COVID-19, Bardin said, but passengers now need short trips, occasional trips and errands rather than commuting to work.

Google bought Waze in June 2013 / Image: Depositphotos.com

8. Autonomous vehicles are the biggest technical challenge of this generation and it will take us a while to get there

This technology has to be 100 percent all or nothing. Self-driving cars, in which there is often only one person driving, inevitably generate even more traffic. Carpooling remains a remedy.

9. Promoting carpooling is a social and community problem that is essentially about getting people to get along

Social interaction in a car pool can also be beneficial. Waze wants to be the company that knows how to maximize carpooling. Rideshare is about people doing their job as drivers. Carpooling is used by people who are already driving.

10. Vehicle sharing has social benefits

Waze wants to focus on carpooling for long journeys as the cost advantage here is dramatic – about a quarter of the cost of carpooling. Carpool groups are made up of people in the same area walking in the same direction every day, and the sense of community between these groups will grow as they begin to look after each other.

Noam Bardin’s vision for the future of Waze ride-sharing makes you believe that with the advent of autonomous vehicles, driving trends will change dramatically, even for those who are still driven by humans. I recommend watching the full one hour webinar. For every tip I shared above, there are five more you won’t want to miss.

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