Thursday, June 24, 2010

Great Early Career Advice

The speaker in this podcast has quite literally saved the best for the last. As part of the Q&A with the audience, Jeff Housenbold reels off one great tip after another on how young managers (including wannabee entrepreneurs) should approach the first few years of their careers – The Venture Intelligence Team

Jeffrey Housenbold, President & CEO, Shutterfly (Bio)

Source: Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner

The Full Podcast (mp3) - 56 Minutes, 25.7 MB

(Use Right Click > Save As to download to your desktop)

Highlights of the talk (links point to corresponding video snippets):

  • Early Career Advice (Minute: 51)
    • “Go where the money is made in the company” – if it’s a sales driven company, go to sales; if it’s a company which has a key product line, try and get into that division, etc.”
    • “Solve your boss’ and your boss’ boss’ problem. And go beyond what you are told to do and try and see how your work relates to the problem the company is trying to solve.”
    • “Go where there’s tremendous growth or a disruption or a turnaround situation”
    • “Don’t care about titles. Be a sponge – figure out know where you want to be in 3-5-10 years and focus on acquiring the relevant skillsets for that. Attach yourself to those people who can help you with that.”
    • “Go to company with a culture where you will fit. If you are about teamwork, if you go to a hero/cowboy driven culture, the politics will crush you”
  • Other highlights
    • Entrepreneurial Thinking – Nice examples of how Ebay innovated in using the Google Adwords program more cost-effectively.
    • Hiring Criteria for Start-up Cos.: Functional expertise; Culture-fit (“how do they acheieve what they do; not just the results”); Written and Oral Communication Skills; Problem solving skills (ability to make decisions without 100% data); out of the box thinking; intellectual curiosity.
    • Differentiation (for a Premium Player) – Nice description of how Shutterfly differentiates itself as a Premium Player from the competition given that even huge players like Walmart offer services in the same space.
    • Customer Feedback. Do research but don’t go and build what customers tell you what they want. Because often they don’t have an expansive vision of where the market’s going 3 years from now.

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