Brown-Bag Lunches at Redfin

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A startup can be its own strange little place, which is good if you’re a little lonely or intense or if you need a sense of purpose and belonging. But working at Redfin can also be like trying to watch a swim meet while splashing around in your own end of the pool; many of us often find ourselves wondering how the rest of the world works.

So a few years ago Redfin launched a brown-bag lunch program in which we invite bad-a** operators to talk about how they built a small company into something big. Big blog publishers have talked about pitching the press; game designers about how to delight consumers; Amazon executives about how to design an e-commerce site; deal kingpins about negotiating tactics. We’ve also asked traditional brokers to speak to us about what it’s like to work with us. The lunches have been a galvanizing force, a shot in the arm, a recombinating splice of freakishly strong alien DNA.

This week, we’re launching our 2010 brown-bag program, beginning on Wednesday at noon with Greylock’s James Slavet.  Like a few other speakers, James is discussing management best practices, a topic especially important to us now as more folks within Redfin dive into management for the first time.

I asked James to speak after noticing how good he was at managing me, which usually involves the kind of riot gear worn by extraction teams in supermax prisons. Before joining Greylock, James founded his own startup, and later ran Yahoo’s search & marketplace business, honchoing hundreds of millions in revenue.

James is the first of several folks scheduled to pitch in over the next couple of weeks:

  • March 10, management best practices: James Slavet, Greylock partner
  • April 2, agile engineering at scale: Neil Roseman, Amazon VP of Engineering, 1998 – 2007
  • April 16, management best practices: Brian McAndrews, former CEO of aQuantive, acquired in 2007 by Microsoft for $6 billion
  • April 28, community-based marketing: Michelle Broderick, former Yelp marketing director
  • May 7, training and growth: Christine McHugh, Starbucks’ interim VP of Global Learning

We’re still working on a few folks to discuss consumer branding and customer service, which we’ll have to announce later. For now, many thanks to the amazing folks who’ve already agreed to help us out.

As before, we’re inviting folks from outside of Redfin to participate. Just leave a comment below and we’ll save a spot for you.

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Glenn Kelman

Chief Executive Officer

Glenn is the CEO of Redfin. Prior to joining Redfin, he was a co-founder of Plumtree Software, a Sequoia-backed, publicly-traded company that created the enterprise portal software market. Glenn was raised in Seattle and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.

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