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The No-Filter Leadership Style Of Instagram COO Marne Levine

“Make sure you’re solving the right problem.”

The No-Filter Leadership Style Of Instagram COO Marne Levine
Marne Levine, COO, Instagram [Photo: Jennifer Hueston]

At Instagram, we have an open floor plan. It’s got a calm, clean, simple aesthetic, but there’s also inspiration on the walls, with video and photos and stories from the community. I love our work space and feel really productive sitting at my desk. But the place where I feel most productive is in my conference room. Its name, “No Filter,” is a popular hashtag on Instagram, but it’s also the tone I want to set for every conversation that happens here. If people don’t use a filter, they’re more direct. And we’re able to be more efficient and effective.

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There’s this great Einstein quote: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem, and then five minutes solving it.” If you spend the bulk of your time making sure you’re solving the right problem, then the solutions come faster and easier.

Time she wakes up: 5 a.m. “To work out, read, write, and get stuff done before my kids get up.”

Dealing with the news: “I get some of my news from Instagram. And I listen to NPR as I’m doing things in the morning.”

Commuting routine: “I’m obsessed with podcasts— currently Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History.”

Worst habit: “I used to work in Washington, D.C., where there are a lot of binders and briefing books. I brought that love of paper with me to Silicon Valley. My colleagues make fun of me for it regularly.”

Motivational object: “A cup of coffee. We have a very close relationship.”

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Productivity advice: “Do you really need to hold a meeting? Or can you solve the issue over email?”

Lunch routine: “Sometimes, like yesterday, it’s a Quest Bar eaten standing up as I’m walking between things.”

What she lets slide: “My kids’ beds. I’m able to let them go unmade. I think of this as self-sufficiency training.”

Nightly routine: “I keep a set of Post-its and a pen by my bed. I write down the things that are swirling in my head.”

Time she goes to bed: “As my husband says, ‘Sleep is a weapon.’ So I’m typically in bed by 10 p.m.”