• Jason Griffing

Draw the Owl

I recently heard Twilio CEO, Jeff Lawson, interviewed on a podcast. During the conversation, the host asks an intriguing question—"what's with all the owls adorning your company walls?"

It turns out "Draw the Owl" is one of Twilio's company values.

Confused? I was too. Until Lawson elaborated.

Lawson explains that the value has its origins in an internet meme that originally surfaced in 2010. The meme, titled "How to draw an owl", breaks the creative act of drawing an owl into two simple steps:

  • Step 1: Draw two circles

  • Step 2: Draw the rest of the fucking owl

On their company values page, Twilio explains this value succinctly:

There’s no instruction book, it’s ours to write. Figure it out, ship it, and iterate. Invent the future, but don’t wing it.

The idea behind this value simple and highly impactful. Our most impactful work is creative work, and by definition, creative work doesn't come with a step-by-step guide. There are no shortcuts. This is not painting by numbers.

There is only the practice. So go slog it out. Get uncomfortable. Accept uncertainty. Embrace mediocrity. If you want to make an impact, stop looking for hints; just put pen to paper and draw the owl.

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