Career Pathways to Executive Management (the full video)
[MUSIC] You all are in an absolutely wonderful place in your career. I know it's hard work and you struggle to get in here and probably times you wonder whether this whole experience was was worth it, cost you time and money to come here. But I think when you look back on this experience at Stanford, the connections that you made, the classmates that you met, and the things that you learn while you were here, I think you will absolutely find that this was well worth the sacrifice to come here and complete the program.
Having said that. [COUGH] It also puts you in a very unique place and it's why I choose to take the tack I do with these remarks. Because contrary to most other times in your career, you were at an ideal point. If you choose to do it to kind of hit the reset button on your career, MBA or a mid career masters, any other graduate degree that has a break from your work. And as you come out different than when you went in gives you this opportunity to hit the reset button and do something different. Now there are some limitations on how far afield from where you've been that you can easily go.
You can do, you can go a little more afield with more and more and more difficulty, nothing is impossible, especially for Stanford graduates, as we all know. But one of the things I want to try to touch on here today a little bit is what's easy, and what's hard. And then you can choose, where in that spectrum of things that that you want to position yourself, and maybe we'll have some tips in terms of how to do it.
And in the q&a, fire away, I always get some interesting questions. I'll do the best I can to be dead honest with you because the last thing you need from anybody like me is some platitudes about how easy something is going to be when it's hard. Or how something that you think you want to do is going to work and are probably won't work. And if that's the case, I'm just going to tell you that and you can value the advice that what it cost you. To get started, I thought I would go through about a dozen slides.
This will be real quick but there's some things in here that I hope get you thinking a little bit. And maybe cause a question or two that we can deal with later. Because I really want the bulk of the time here to be devoted to your questions. And my experience has been your questions, generate other questions, and the audience starts to play off each other and we have a little fun. But let me run through this fairly quickly if you have a question about the slides, feel free to interrupt me.
This is really informal and we're going to have to hold everything until the end. But I'd like to try to set the stage a little bit with just some initial thoughts that I call launching or relaunching an executive career. And there we go. So here's a here's a pretty obvious statement. And we'll start with an easy when companies are formed and built and grown on three legs of a three legged stool, ideas, money and talent.
Those are the three things that's all there is. So what about these three things, ideas. Ideas are never in short supply. As I said there's almost an infinite number of ideas for product service and technology in the world. And every time somebody makes a stupid statement that everything important in this field is invented virtually.
The next day somebody comes up and proves them wrong with a new idea and has everybody said yeah I never thought of that I wish I had money. You need money to build businesses, but money is normally in pretty adequate supply. In every business cycle, good ideas get funded. And in some of them, as we've seen over and over again, lousy ideas get funded.
But good ideas can always find funding somewhere. So what's the shortage? Shortage is you. The shortage is talent.
It's in limited supply. It's finite. At the leadership level it's not only finite, it's declining. As baby boomers who have been the leadership core of the world for the last 20 years, my generation. Getting out of these jobs and doing things like this talking to people like you who were taken over for my generation, and you can't make more. There's only that many people of that age and that talent.
And so, what that says is this leadership shortage which is going to be forever Is really good news for you. If you have a compelling story, and if you tell your story, the right way to the right people, then no matter how good your story is, if you don't tell it to anybody that can help you. And if you have a lousy story and you tell it to the wrong people, that's not going to get you anywhere anyway. So what about resumes? I'm asked a lot of times about resumes, and I probably pay less attention to resumes than most people do. You got to have one maybe, I mean, frankly today, your LinkedIn profile may be good enough for most of the things that you've got to do.
If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, you got to get one and do that. Do that quick, make sure it's always current, and make sure it's always accurate. Beyond a resume this is a document that helps you tell your story. And it'll help you if you have a good story to tell and if you tell it right.
So what makes a good story? Well, in my opinion, good choices, because you're going to have to be explaining them with logical explanations. Because in your career, you're going to be faced with a number of times where you're going to be sitting down across the table. From somebody that you want to convince, they ought to do something positive for you.
And they're probably, going to look at your background and look at your resume and start asking you questions like, well, why did you do that? Why did you make that choice? Why did you go here instead of there? Why didn't you stay and get promoted in this job? If in fact you were doing as good as you tell me, you were. Company and people over product and compensation, I generally advise people to go work for the best people they can work for. And for the best companies they can work for. If the products not right and it's a good company and you're working for great people that'll get fixed over time. If it's a greatest product in the world and you're working for lousy people, they'll find a way to mess it up and you'll be on the outs.
Venture capitalists understand this all too well. I mean, one of the oldest sayings in the venture capital world is A management team with a B product will find a way to make their investors money. And a B management team with an A product will find a way to mess it up.
I mean, and that's how they invest. You look at their record, and you'll see it it's people. Measurable accomplishments and promotions.
If you can focus on anything when you're putting your story together. Focus on what you have accomplished that you can legitimately take credit for, or at least partial credit for. And be clear which is which when you're explaining it, that's measurable with facts and figures and things that people will recognize and ideally which got you promoted. Credible transitions and moves as I said, you're going to be explaining your moves. Over time to people who are not going to take bullshit or fluffy answers and pay much attention to them. So think about that before you make a transition or a move and certainly as you're making it, how you're going to be explaining it 10, 15, 20 years down the road.
Recognized mentors and references. As you're building a career, you're going to work for people and whether you like it or not the reputation of those people rubs off on you. If it's good, it helps you. If it's bad, it hurts you.
And there's not a whole lot that you can do about that other than to be smart in your choices. And if you find that you're working for somebody whose reputation is likely to hurt you because their reputation is bad, get out. Get away or get out and do it as fast as you can.
And finally, what makes a good story when you're telling it to somebody. Is at the end of the day at the end of the conversation, you've gotta be able to convince them that you can be successful doing something that in fact, they want done. Because if you can convince them that you can do it, but it isn't anything that they need to have done, then you won't go anywhere.
Or if they have something that they need to have done and you can't convince them that you can do it. It doesn't go anywhere. It's only when you put those two things together, that telling your story to somebody that matters and can do something positive with it will get you a good outcome.
How do you tell it? Well, we've touched on some of this clear clarity of goals and accomplishments. I'm basically an advocate of a simple chronological resume that says what you did, when you did it, who you did it for what the results were and, and what happened to you as a result. I mean, if you think about those things, that's what I'm always looking for.
I don't like a lot of fluffy explanations of, things that don't matter. Facts are good if they're true. Promotions are better. Accurate facts and dates, easy to pick out successes. Keep in mind that you want somebody who's looking at your resume, or looking at your LinkedIn profile to look at something on there and say, I can use that.
That fits here, that's interesting. Logical transitions, no misrepresentations or vague claims. And a clear and credible path to what you seek.
We'll come back to that because that last points important and we're going to cover that in the Q&A. Because doesn't matter how good your background is in a conversation that you're having with somebody about the potential of working for him. Unless you can convince them that excellent background fit something that they need to have done. Otherwise, it's a nice conversation. They probably like you and say, you've got a great background that fit here.
But, why are you telling me your story you should be telling it to somebody who can do something about it. We talk a lot about networks. Most people don't have any idea how big their networks in fact, really are. Your networks are enormous. I mean, you start with the people in the room.
You start with everybody they know. You start with people that they know. You look at graduates of Stanford, people that they know, the places that they've worked.
Before you know it, you can define your network, literally as being hundreds of thousands of people. Because anybody who can make a connection to somebody that might be willing to help you, is in fact part of your network. And you may not even know who they are. But they're part of your network and you can make that work for you. If you want to meet somebody, usually somebody in the Stanford Business school alumni, committee will make an introduction for you if you can figure out the right way to get to them. And the right way to ask that question.
GSB alums will usually help. I'll make this point because I always make it and that is almost anybody is going to be willing to help you. I'd be willing to help you. Your classmates would be willing to help you, your professors. Alumni will be willing to help you, but very few of them are going to be willing to do your homework for you.
And so an example, if you call me and say, Tom, I want to get into, venture capital. Would you introduce me to some venture capitalists? What, that's a lazy question, okay? But if you said I've got two years in the venture capital industry and I worked on a project that's Josh Green and Ward David L. Is a board member of I know you know, Josh, because I know you work with him on a board. Would you be willing to introduce me to Josh Green so that I can have a conversation about this project that I know he's interested in.
Okay, that now, that night and day those two questions the first one general requires work on my part. And I'm not going to go do a lot of work to try to figure out what you could have figured out and didn't. But the second one, if I believe that that's a very credible question, it takes me about 30 seconds to pop off an email to Josh and say, Look, this is somebody I think you ought to meet. They've specifically picked you out of the hundreds or thousands of venture capital people. Because of your experience in this company and they're interested in that and they think they had some dad would you meet with them for, 15 to 20 minutes. Specific on the one hand, general on the other hand, they said pick specific targets make specific requests.
And then if somebody does you a favor, particularly somebody that didn't have any reason to do it other than they were just trying to help you. After the thing is done, you met with Joshua Hunter, go back, send them an email and tell them what happened. Hey, I met with Josh, thanks for setting that up. I'm not sure what's going to come out of it, but I really appreciate it.
We're going to stay in touch. Thank you. Believe me, that will pay dividends later.
First of all, it's just good common courtesy if somebody did something for you that they didn't have to do to call them up and thank them and tell them what happened. Because they're probably curious. It also leaves that door open to go back to them again in the future because they've got a good feeling about you. This is somebody that handled that right and it'd be willing to go do another favour for you down the road.
Whereas, I've got a lot of people I won't name them maybe I will later a few but who seems like every couple of years would call me up and say, Tom, it's been so long since we've talked. I really wanted to get back to you and see how you were doing. Well, I'm doing fine.
[LAUGH] How are you doing? Well, I you know, I'm getting work out. I was looking for a job. Well what happened with the last thing that you called me about two years ago that you never came back and told me what happened about that. And, maybe I'll be polite to him, maybe I want more likely they don't somehow I'm out of town or something when that call comes in. And my EA just handles it, it never sees the light of day.
Stay connected to the people who have helped you. And my career was the executive search business, I started very early. I think it was like 32, I spent 30 years with Hedrick and struggles. We were the largest search from the world for a long time, I think pretty much the most respected senior executive search firm in the world then and now. I did a lot of things with the firm including spending the last five years before I retired from that as, as chairman and CEO.
We were a public company by then with 70 offices in 40 countries and 500 and some partners spread out all over the place. And, It's amazing to me that so many people who interact with executive search firms Don't have hardly any clue about how the profession works, and what it does, and what it doesn't do, and how it can work for you. Let me give you an example. There's thousands of search firm partners and my firm had about 500, they were spread out all over the world.
But for any one particular thing, particularly at the very senior level where recruiters in every firm begin to specialize on industry and function. For somebody in this audience, there might have been in my firm 3, 4, maybe 5 of the 500 recruiters that it would be useful to build a relationship with. And 495 who might like you, might be friends, might be a neighbor, might help you in a different way, I'll come back to that, but would never be in a position to have an assignment where you could be a candidate. Because maybe you're consumer products chief marketing officer, and your next door neighbor is a partner in one of the big five executive recruiting firms, and does chief information officer searches for industrial companies, pretty much only and dominates that space. There is zero chance that that person will ever have a direct assignment that you can be a candidate for. But that person knows those five people who are the five people in that firm that you ought to get to know.
And the way to use them if you can get a relationship with them is tell them exactly either what kind of person or if you can do your research, it's usually not very hard, what specific person in their firm you'd like to get introduced to. And they'll probably do that for you because it's the stock in trade. Recruiters work for clients, we work exclusively for clients, but we have this kind of odd three-party symbiotic relationship. It's completely unique in professional service representation where we get paid by one side of a transaction, but have to be perceived as fair, balanced, and delivering value to both sides. Lawyers don't get that. I mean, you got two companies fighting with each other, company a has got a lawyer, company b has got a lawyer.
The lawyers fight with each other, but they know who they're representing. They're not trying to be fair, they're advocates. They're advocates for their side. Marketing people, PR people, accountants, they're working for their clients and every client has one of those. But the search profession is pretty odd, so the people that do it have to tread this line between loyalty to a client and respect and loyalty among the candidates.
because unless that they can put a transaction together with two willing parties who are both smart and ideally not going to do something that's not in the both of their best interests. No transaction happens, no search gets completed, and nothing gets done, and that person doesn't stay in the business very long. So you can make that work for you as long as you understand that it's not the recruiter's job to find you your next position. It's the recruiter's job to solve the problem that their client has. And if you can be the solution to that problem, then they're going to be real happy to bring you forward and have you be a candidate for that project. If you're not the solution to that problem, two things can happen.
If you recognize it early on and raise your hand and say this isn't right for me, what I'm really interested in is x. Let me try to help you with a suggestion of somebody better than me for this project. And would you remember me for something or introduce me to one of your colleagues who's working on what I want to do? That's a good interaction, that will serve you well. What won't serve you well is either trying to convince a recruiter, any recruiter, really at any level, that you're something that you're not because they'll figure it out eventually. Or that you are interested in something that in the end you're really not interested in because you're wasting the recruiter's time which is the only asset they have to make a living with, and they don't appreciate it when their time's wasted. They know every set of interactions is not going to lead to a successful outcome.
And you may go all the way to the end and you may decide or the client may decide this isn't right, it didn't happen. But as long as that was done with good faith, nobody has any hard feelings. But if it was done with bad faith, and bad faith can be on the client side too, I've experienced this as well.
In which case I apologized to the candidates and try to make it right if I can. But nobody worries about that as long as everybody is proceeding along the path with good faith. Be specific, be special, try to be very clear when you're dealing with recruiters of any kind. What is it you want? What you're willing to do? What you're not willing to do? And ask the kind of questions to try to decide if this opportunity that they've put in front of you or called you about is the right potential one for you. If it is, say so. Don't be cute, don't play hard to get, be honest, there would be plenty of time for negotiation at the end.
If it isn't, pull out fast and don't waste your time. Don't lie or embellish your resume. My colleagues and I spent years honing skills to smell bullshit coming a mile away. I mean, a good recruiter will not let you get away with claiming something that isn't true, that's fluffy, credit for something that really maybe you had a small part of and you're trying to take too much credit for.
You don't need to do that, you've got good records. Just be honest and try to position yourself someplace where your skill set and your interests fit what the clients needs. Covered some of this other stuff.
The second one though I want to come back to because as you think about what it is that you want to do, there is a role there for executive recruiters to play over a long period in your career. And the key, I think for all of you, is to figure out literally that handful and it's probably no more than that in any particular geography. If you go more broadly global, it could be a little more, it's still not a big number. And I doubt for most of you, the critical mass of recruiters among the major search firms who would be in a position to be really good career-long allies and sources for you, I would be very surprised if that was more than 10 or 12 people in total. That's a number of people that you can over time get to know.
It's not hundreds, that's hard, but 10, 6, 8, 10, 12, you can do that. Particularly, if you identify who they are and have a strategy to get to know them in a positive way through introductions of people, other search people, others who will help you. But get to know them in a positive way, stay connected, don't be a pain in the neck, but stay connected, and build a very long-term relationship with them. Particularly the ones that are working in your chosen field a level or two above where you are now.
Because over time, they'll move up too, and as you move up, you'll be heading into their space from below as it will. And those are the people you want to be dealing with, not the ones that are working at or below your level now, which by the time you get your next promotion, you've outgrown them and they can't help you anymore. So you want to be aiming high. So what do companies want when they're hiring people? Companies in every cycle are hiring people, they're trying to hire good people they want to understand what your career is and how it fits with them. They're looking for skills and experience that closely match their needs as they see them and probably you can't do a whole lot to convince them to see it some other way.
This third one's really important because anybody, even the CEO, hiring somebody has got to answer to his or her board. And everybody else has a boss, maybe more than one boss, and if they're going to hire you go explain to somebody else probably somebody you never met. Maybe you met him but maybe you didn't, why they want to hire you as opposed to somebody else. And it's your job if you want that job to make it easy for them to explain to whoever they have to explain to why it is that they want to hire you as opposed to anybody else that they might hire. So if you put yourself in that mindset and say, you got to tell a story, not only will they believe but that they can retell, because they're going to have to, they're going to have to justify this decision to somebody.
And so, the easier you can make that for them, the more likely they are to hire you, which says personality and style that fits their culture, every company has has a culture. Some cultures are more comfortable for some people than others some companies are more female friendly than others, some are more ethnically open than others. Some are more open to different nationalities than others you can fight that We can all deplore that and say that's horrible, but you're looking for a job. And I mean if you if you go back to one of the things that I've always loved that my good friend Jim Collins, Jim probably speaks around here once in a while, is fond of saying is is look for the open door. He said so many people go through their lives spending an awful lot of energy, trying to pound their way through doors that are closed and locked.
It's possible, but it's hard down the hall, three doors down, maybe there's an open door with somebody there that would say, come on in. Once in a while you may want to think about maybe I'll go down there and go through that open door as opposed to trying to find my way through this one it's locked or locked to me now it may be locked to me for reasons that I find reprehensible. Yeah, you can decide if you want to try to change that good luck to you or you can say, I'll do that in my spare time, but I need a job so I want to go someplace where somebody wants me for what I am for who I am. And they like what I am as opposed to me trying to convince them they should like what I am when they don't simple as that no side issues or hassles, the more the easier you make it to recruit you. The more likely it is that somebody is going to do that because this gets back again to they going to explain this to somebody else if they want somebody to start the first of next month, and you don't want to start for three months, that's a problem for them, particularly if they've got another candidate might not be as good as us willing to start when they want.
If you need a lot more compensation than they're prepared to pay or you have a whole lot of other complicated things that they have to deal with that's hard, so, the point there is think about what it is. Somebody said the difference between what you'd like to have and what you need to have focus on that make it easy to hire you, compensation demands they can meet. Sometimes you can push the boundaries We've got another little Presentation I do on negotiating compensation. I don't think we're going to have the time to do that tonight, but if anybody has any questions about that, we'll handle it in the Q and A. And once somebody hires you, they want you to go, they want you to onboard, you should want that too, but they want you to onboard starting and engaged So we're in Silicon Valley, and many of you either have work in startups in fact, how many of you have worked in start-ups? Not too many usually it's more okay, how many of you are thinking about working in startups? Okay, I mean, let me know if I got the maths, right how many of you have worked in startups before or thinking about going back into startups again? One, two three, okay, good so you didn't get turned off by the first time somebody asked I'm not sure who it was.
It might have been John Doerr at Kleiner Perkins said, if one time he said, if you're trying to figure out if you're an entrepreneur, you're not which I always thought was kind of interesting. If you need structure, then nothing wrong with that big companies need a lot of people, the good places to work, and if that's you, that's fine go big. Lots of big companies recruiting here lots of big companies are great places to work for entire careers if you decide to go to a start-up, I would pose not for everybody but for the people in this room because you're special.
You're a special group of people I would say if it's a start-up, you want to be focused on a couple of things and I say, will you be at the table at the table means are you going to be in the group, the small group of people that makes the key decisions. They're in a closed room with the door closed when something big is coming down and bet the company are really important decisions have to be made. If you're at that table, doesn't matter a whole lot what your job title is, what your compensation is, really are or any else because it'll all be taken care of if you're not at the table, and you're outside.
Looking through the keyhole trying to figure out what's going on in that room when the key decisions are being made, I would say to you if to start up most of the time, the risk reward ratio for you is not right. That puts you in in the world of four box matrix is in the high risk, low reward box and I don't think that's a box that you ought to be intentionally aiming yourself to. That if the company is wildly successful, you make a little bit of money and you weren't really part of the team that drove it on the other hand, if you're in the high risk, high reward box, yeah, that can be great. Can you handle the risk? What do you do if it fails? Some cultures, some geographies failures really hard it's really hard to explain or somebody said once how are you going to go home and tell your mother that your company failed.
If you grew up around Silicon Valley it was okay, big deal what are you going to do next? But there's some places in the country and in the world where that's going to be really hard for you? And if it is, and you don't feel like you're up for it, maybe that's not where you want to go. Are the leaders of the startup professionals or are they friends? I put up a big red flag every time I see a startup that's three college roommates and get together because they want to start a company. I'll be the CEO and so you'd be the marketing VP and what do you want to be okay, engineering well, we got to have one okay, well, you're really not very good. That's a bad way to get a company started and if you get into a company where the officers are friends and they wouldn't be picked for their talent in a fair fight against other people.
This has a very high probability of coming out with the worst possible outcome you could imagine, which is you lose the company, you lose the job, and you probably lose your friends in the process. So I just say Massive caveats on going in any startup where a bunch of your friends get together and choose up sides. Is the financing solid for at least a year? Because you don't want to be coming into something unless there's at least a year of runway there before the company needs to raise money, because maybe it won't, and that's tough. As I said, if it's a tough choice, say no. We have like two slides left and we're going to Q&A. I know you had do you have a question you want to ask before you left? >> [INAUDIBLE] >> [INAUDIBLE] Contrary to somebody, I recruited CEOs mostly for a living, and there's a popular wisdom that you really want to go out when you're looking for a CEO, and find somebody that's done this successfully two or three times.
And that's the spiel we gave to our clients, it was a big part of our sale. They bought it most of the time, wasn't true. The fact of the matter is, most successful CEOs that you could think about and that you could identify did the job.
They succeeded the first time they tried it, most of them never did it again. A few did, generally with less success than they did the first time, but it is very few successful, successive entrepreneurs of CEOs of multiple things. I say experience counts, but the best succeed the first time.
Here's where I say, and this is contrarian thinking, and it's contrary into the experience most of you will have, or you'll have a lot of jobs, you'll work for a number of companies in your tenures. Maybe fairly short, and they're getting shorter in this day and age, but I urge you each time that you think about taking a job, whether it's the one you get out of here, when you hit that reset button, or each subsequent time. I urge you to at least put some of your effort into the thought process that this is the last change I'm ever going to make, and I'm going to work for this company for the rest of my working career.
I'm going to run it one day, and then I'm going to retire from it having spent my whole career here. Chances are pretty good it won't happen, but that mindset will serve you well no matter what. It happened to me, wasn't my first time, wasn't my second time.
I found something that I really liked, I stayed with the company for 30 years, I ran it, I retired from it. So I admit my bias is characterized by my personal experience which I freely admit. But don't go work for a company that you don't respect, that you can't go home to your family and tell them what they do, and have them feel good about that.
It's not on the slide, but don't go work for a company if you won't relocate to where the corporate headquarters is. I can't tell you how many times I've got this story, and it is so obvious that I have to tell it. I was interviewing a guy some years ago, who was a extremely successful Regional Manager for Medtronic. Great company, wonderful company, he was in Washington, DC running the eastern region. And they wanted him to move to Minneapolis, which is where the company was headquartered. And he didn't want to do that because he want to stay in Washington, and I asked him, I said, how is this not predictable? The only way that eventually you're not going to get asked to go to the corporate headquarters is if a, the company fails or gets sold, or b, you're not very good.
And if you're not willing to go where the seat of power is, why in the world that you spend the last ten years working your ass off to generate this opportunity, which now you're going to turn down? Explain to me how that makes any sense? So think about that. Run something hard, my biases if you've got an opportunity to take a line job over a staff job, do it, get P and L responsibility, get hire and fire responsibility. Get something where you've got budgets to run, people to hire, things to manage that can be measurable if you're successful. And do the best to avoid things that where your contribution isn't measurable even if the company is successful.
because you'll get some spin off from being associated with a successful company. But it won't be as good as if you can demonstrate that something good happened because you let it or you did it. The people part, sometimes people tend to think, I don't think anybody here would think that. But sometimes people tend to think that they don't want to hire really, really good people because it'll make them look bad or they might overshadow them or they might be risky to them.
And I'll tell you that's a prescription I think, for failure because two things, you're not going to get promoted. This is if you're in a corporate job in a big company, but pretty much anywhere. You're not going to get promoted to the next big job unless whoever is going to promote you thinks there's somebody in your organization that can take over for you. And if you haven't got anybody, well, you'll either sit in that job until you do, or you'll get passed over because you are perceived as having good people working for you. You work for great people, they're going to get promoted, they're going to pull you up behind them.
You hire really good people, they'll push you up because they'll be ready for new challenges. You'll give it to them, that reflects well on you, plus it makes you feel good. And the last thing is, there's nothing that I looked for. And when I scan resumes, and I talked to people about their background, the first thing and the last thing, and almost everything in-between that I looked at was, where and when did this person get promoted? Because you get promoted when the people or the company that you work for thought you did a good enough job, and what the job they gave you, they give you a bigger one.
And it's amazing, when I looked at careers, we'd see backgrounds of somebody that starts out, probably not a Stanford MBA, but they start out as a District sales manager of Company A. And then a regional sales leader of Company B, and then a sales and marketing director of company C. And a VP of sales and marketing company E and the chief operating officer of company F. Looks like a great progression of titles, they never got promoted, never once. So it makes you wonder, were they just get out of town just before the axe fell on them. And getting lucky to use their background to get promoted to another company that would buy their story and give them a bigger job.
When you look around, you'll see people like this all the time, and they're not the people you want to go work for. For one thing, they're going to be splitting, they're not going to take care of you because they're only concerned about themselves. And you don't want to be one of those people, so think about. If you're close, if you've got an opportunity, or you're thinking about leaving and you're close to finishing a project you can take credit for, and getting a promotion, I would urge you think long and hard before you leave anywhere just short of a promotion.
Because somebody like me is going to ask you, why did you leave just shorter when you should have probably gotten promoted? Were are you going to get promoted? Why didn't you get promoted? Who got the job in that company that you would have wanted? Were they better than you? So maybe I should be talking to them. So a few final thoughts and we'll go to Q&A. The world is big, your world is bigger than most people's worlds because you have opportunities that most people don't have. You've earned them by being here, by having the capabilities to get here, by making the sacrifice to come here.
And so your opportunity set is large. Your networks, we talked on this, your networks are much bigger than your biggest imagination of how big they can be, they're bigger if you think expansively. People like to help.
As I said before, make it easy for people to help you. Don't make it hard, make it easy. They'll do it, they'll do it over and over again. And be nice to them, somebody said, be nice to the people you pass on your way up the corporate ladder, you may pass them again on your way down, but- >> [LAUGH] >> Hope not, but you'll see them again.
Success is measured in a lot of ways. We can talk about being the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company, and maybe a couple of you in here will do that, but most of you won't. And that doesn't mean you're less successful.
What matters is your success, according to you, not according to me, or your classmates, or the school, or surveys. What matters is your success according to you, you measure it your way. And don't let anybody convince you that you should measure your success in life any more than your happiness in life by somebody else's standards.
They've got their own issues, they've got their own goals. You should have yours and you should have every reason to expect that you can achieve them. Last comment is don't hit the panic button too soon. Life is long. Enjoy the journey.
You've got a lot of great experiences along the way. There's a lot of people who will help you and appreciate what you do, and I can't, I wish I was out there. And there's an Irish comedian that used to say, gee, I wish I was out there in the audience listening to this.
But, in some ways, I wish I was out there with the opportunities that you all have because they're really almost limitless. And all I can say is I wish you good luck with them and we'll be tracking your progress. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Hopefully there's something there that gets some questions going, yeah. >> Can you talk a little bit about the process of getting wrapped up into a job search with a recruiter, starting with how you identify those four or five out of the 500 that are relevant.
>> Yeah the question is, how do you identify the recruiters who are right for you to begin making a relationship with over time. There's two or three ways, and I would try them all. It starts by figuring out what it is that you want to do. And being as clear and specific about that as you can, and then you get to people in the recruiting firms.
And there's five large ones, large, large global ones, mine was one. And then there's a dozen or so mid tiered ones and then lots of small ones, many of whom are founded and staffed by alums of the big one. So the quality is just as good, they may be small. You start asking people around who does this kind of work and you ask enough questions, the same names will come up. Second way to do it is reverse engineer searches that got done. If there's a job out there that you would like to have had or would like to have the next time, and it just got filled.
You saw the announcement in the paper, chances are there was a recruiter that did that search. Call up the company, call up the individual in the job and say, look, I see you got this promotion or send him an email. You can reach him on LinkedIn by the way. We'll come back to that.
And say, I'm curious as to was there a recruiter that handled this search and if so, who was it and were they good? Because if they were good for them, they'll be good for you. The one thing about the recruiting profession is once you start building the reputation for doing certain kinds of searches. The industry knows and they'll come back to the same people time and time again for those projects. That's how they build specializations and the same thing happens within the search firms.
I got a lot of calls because I was high profile from companies wanting searches done. Almost never would I do them. So the question would be, who would we recommend that they talk to? And it's going to be the person in our firm that has the best track record doing those kinds of searches and everybody knows who they are.
And so, at that point, your goal is to figure out who those people are. And try to get an opportunity to have them know who you are. And if they're willing to spend a little bit of time, not a lot of time, but 15, 20 minutes meeting you, and just saying, yeah, maybe I'm not a candidate for anything right now, but I'm a candidate for what you do as a recruiter. And one of these days you're going to have an assignment that I'm going to be qualified for and interested in and I wanted you to know who I was. And that line of discussion works if you're right, if your facts are right, and you've done your homework. It's a waste of time if it's a random blast at the recruiting world.
And just as it's pretty much a waste of time to send resumes to recruiting firms, don't bother, it's not worth the paper you're printing your resumes on. They get tens of thousands, most of them unfortunately go in the scrap heap, including some of the very same people who come into them through their sourcing exercises later on a search that they pay a lot of attention to. They wouldn't have paid any attention to the resume coming in because they're not geared to do the scan and match.
By the way, LinkedIn is an excellent way. I mean, LinkedIn didn't exist for most of my years in the recruiting business. The search firms are using LinkedIn now, massively. And so you need to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is current and is as good as it can be.
And if you want to get to somebody's recruiter or somebody that you don't know, and you don't know what their email address is. If they have a LinkedIn account, you can send them a LinkedIn mail on the LinkedIn account and they'll get it. It's the best way to reach somebody that you don't know how to reach. And so just sort of tuck that away, you can do that I think on the basic free LinkedIn subscription.
So many amounts of people here probably know better than I. But for a little bit of money, you can move up to the higher levels for even if it's just for a short period of time while you're doing a job search and you get a lot more access that way. So, anyway, that's what I would do, yeah. >> My question is, especially in the valley, there's a bit of a blurred line between what is a startup and what is established company. We've got companies growing into hundreds of millions of dollars in like a year or two.
>> Right. >> And so, if I said, well, there's a company to raise series B financing. It looks pretty solid. So they raised say like north of $20 million or $50 million. Would you still say that you need to have a seat at the table there? >> Well, that's a mature startup. That's not a pure startup from zero.
If they've done a series B and they've got financing for a year or more and they're growing rapidly. Then you might relax that because they're going to be hiring a lot of people that are not all going to have a seat at the key table. Then the question though To ask is, will I have a seat at some interesting table? And does the person that I'm going to be working for maybe have a seat at the big table? I mean if you're working for somebody and you won't have a seat at an interesting table and you're working for somebody that doesn't have a seat at the big table but maybe has heard about who the people are who do. I'm not sure that's what you want to do. But, if there's a path, the company looks good, that you're right it's in the fuzzy area between a small and a big company. I was more talking about a pure, a seed round or a round startup, which I think is much more risky than what you just described.
Yeah, either one will get the other one. >> For international people that we may have some additional things like we don't know the culture that much or we don't know the network's industry that much. We have maybe to figure out some things related to the thesis. What is can we highlight to set up with maybe more simple local candidates? >> Well, sure.
I think that almost everybody has some kind of skills and attributes that other people don't have. And you're better off if you can package those and show them to somebody who has an appreciation for him. So I mean if you're not a US National and you have extensive international experience either in your home country or in some third international country. That's an asset that companies are looking for particularly companies who are going to be expanding International.
I can help you go to Latin America, I can help you go to Europe or Asia or India. And so, the entry there may well be through somebody in international. One of the things a lot of people find is an entry to the bigger companies is through one of their countrymen, who's a prior graduate from here who, would help them. I mean, if you're Chilean, you want to be making sure that you're connected with the Chilean MBA graduate community and the Chilean community of senior executives here.
And so it can vary because my experience is in is they look out for their country men, and they'll try to find a way to help you. And then that translates over to introductions to other countries and you move to Latin America, I'm just used to using Chilean Latin Americans. The example applies to almost any anybody anywhere. Okay, Lucky guests.
Great country by the way. So, I think that's the case, don't, again back to the open door and the closed door, try to find some open door where somebody wants to help you for who you are, not wants to slam a door in your face for who you're not. And so I can't emphasize that that's strong enough. Find people that are willing to help you and let them get you through an open door and then working around in the back as opposed to trying to bang your way in through the front where maybe they're not not so open.
Yeah, we missed you. It's your turn. [INAUDIBLE] While we can use eight years not really, that big a deal, it's accepted if you fail as an entrepreneur.
I just want to try and build on that sentiment because many of us here come from non entrepreneurial background and have come from corporates. And have had reasonably successful careers, but are contemplating as part of creature here. The stint in entrepreneurship, there is the risk that it could fail and search for to get a sense for yourself is to that point when you're trying to think through. Okay, go back into corporate career.
Continue the momentum of taper extending. Don't rush in and take the potential risk or the potential war not just compensation, but also roll the seat you mentioned. I'm trying to think how is really your opinion, failure perceived because. >> Yeah, it depends.
It's perceived differently, depending on who's perceiving. As I said, you graduate from here you've got the opportunity to hit this career reset button once. But you don't get an unlimited number of opportunities to hit that reset button. You might get a second pop added in a couple years if something didn't work out, but then probably not. The other comment I would make is career transitions that I've watched are historically quite easy from large companies to small ones and quite hard from small ones to large ones. And so if you are going to go from a big company background into an odd entrepreneurial world think long and hard about that because it won't be that easy to go back where you came from.
I mean, maybe if it's a year or two, and you dumped back quick or you go back to the company you work for you might be able to do it. But then I would almost say you weren't really all that committed to going into the startup world in the first place if you were looking for an opportunity to go back. Like I said, if it scares you to go big the failures, Particularly in the entrepreneurial community here, are really almost no big deal. But they tend to be perceived as a much bigger deal by the bigger companies, the bigger, more mature companies and it's just a fact of life.
I think many of you have probably experienced that. So, I think the likelihood is if you are committing to an entrepreneurial career path, that's a commitment you need to make. And you need to probably believe that it's a career long commitment that's where you're going to spend the rest of your career.
>> God forbid it did go well to execute a search conference trying to find the next job. >> Well, they're not going to be trying to find you the next job there. They may be talking to you about a position with one of their clients, in which case they're already interested in you.
So you don't have to they found you somehow, otherwise you didn't get in the door and you weren't sitting in front of them. So that's a positive interview, if you got it, and then all you have to do I mean, if it's a startup that failed, yeah, it's a startup that failed. This is what I thought was going to happen.
The questions that I would ask would be around the choices and the explanation for the choice you made to go there, not so much the outcome because you can't control that. What you can control is the choice that you made to go there. And so I really want to know, well, why did you choose to go there? What did you think the likely outcome was going to be? Why did you believe the company was going to be successful turnout? It wasn't, but those questions can have very good and credible answers to them. And that's what you should think about, because as I said, that's part of telling your story and an answer. They told me it was going to be great and I didn't really check it or one of my friends went there and he said it was cool. Or they had they had a cafeteria where you could get food like all the time.
I mean, those are not very good, I'm kidding you a little bit, but those are not very good answers to questions but an honest assessment that look I looked at it. I thought the technology was solid in place for a year the execute team was an equality team in my estimation. And it didn't work out.
That is just fine. At that point that's all I want to know my next deal here. And chances are you probably learned something from that experience. Which is also an important thing to get into the discussion.
Who is next? I think maybe you were. >> Yeah, my question is can you speak to the different types of practices by Joker Began by industry? So for example, the bay area seems to be such firm diverse [INAUDIBLE] Network. Whereas maybe other industries have more blue chip, senior that is much more friendly towards search.
>> Sure. Well, the first thing I think If you're focused on particular company, or particular set of companies, figuring out what their hiring process is. And who or what institutions they use to help them in it, is a good first step in it.
That's basic homework and it shouldn't be very hard. If you have questions, you can call the HR department and talk to somebody in their recruiting department. Though, they'll tell you the answers to those questions. Do you use recruiters? Is a no, if you do use recruiters, who do you use? What do you use them for? What level? I think you're correct. There's a huge infrastructure, have talent moving around in Silicon Valley.
It's almost unique in the world. And it's not that they don't use recruiters, they use everything. And they use everything in volume. I mean, the recruiting business here is very strong, but so is direct recruiting. I mean, most of the major companies have created big in house recruiting staffs.
Most of those staffs worked at one point or other in their big search firms. I mean, top recruiters at Apple pretty much all work for me over the years. And in other places though, where the local talent pool is maybe not quite so vibrant, companies will tend to rely on recruiters more. And that tends to be the case as you go up more and more senior levels. At the officer level, I just did chief CXO searches and CEO searches for medium to big companies for the most part. Pretty much all those searches still use recruiters, executive recruiters.
But levels below that is a complete mixed bag, and a lot of its networking. And so here's where your networks really matter a lot, is to tap on both for contacts. And to tap in for information in terms of how this particular company hires. And if you want to get in the hiring process and cycle for this company, or this set of companies. How do you do that? And people will tell you, this is where graduates of this program two, three years out working in these companies who sat in these chairs two years ago.
And are out doing those jobs now are the people I'd be talking to, not me I'm too far removed from that. But I know there are a lot of people out there, who are willing to help you. And they're pretty easily identified, Virginia can tell you who they all are. She knows them all. Mike they know more.
I think you were next? >> [INAUDIBLE] While the recommendations you have how we ourselves [INAUDIBLE] >> Okay, question is about sourcing. Recruiters when they do searches, use a variety of techniques. One, they all have databases of candidates that they maintain, not not so much from resumes sent to them. But by profiles they've created over the years candidates they've interviewed. Maybe presented and want to do present again because that's they've got qualified people.
So they look at that, that's all categorized, they look at their own prior search work that similar. Where do we do a search like this, the last time? And who were the candidates who came in second, third, fourth on that search, that maybe would be a good fit for this. They do industry sourcing which is what you talked about where they call around typically at a level or two above. What they're trying to find. If I'm doing a search for a marketing, VP, I'm calling CEOs, and saying, who are the best marketing people, you know in your competitors, maybe not one of your people? Sometimes they'll even suggest one of their people that is blocked. Surprisingly it happens.
Who's worked for you over the years that you think is really good. And here, this is where if you've worked for really strong mentors and strong performers, they know about you, If you stay in touch with them as even if they've moved on from where you are, they'll think about you. They'll recommend you.
because they're the people with the reputations who are going to get the calls. The weak ones don't get those calls, the strong ones get those calls. And are in a position to help influence the hiring of people that either they know about, or more likely have worked for them, or for their other teams over the years. And really good executives, I find tend to take very good care of people who perform for them over the years.
I mean, they'll recommend them for jobs, they'll proactively recommend them for jobs. And in fact, if you've got a good relationship with them, you can go ask them to do that. Go to somebody who is a boss of yours in another company. If that was a good relationship, he or she has a good feeling for you, call them and say, look, I'm ready to make a move. Who should I be talking to? Who in this search firm world, do you know that you'd be willing to introduce me to, and if somebody reaches out to you, well, keep me in mind. So, Okay >> How do I translate? >> Well, two things.
One, if they're international firms, that have offices in the UK, and you have good relationships with the recruiters in the UK, ask them if they'd be willing to introduce you to their counterparts here in Silicon valley in their firms. Most of them will be willing to do that if the firms are large and have offices in both places. If not, then the other source is, it could be the UK expat community here, people who are Brits are working in Silicon Valley. There's lots of them. And my experience has been. As I said before, they're willing to help their countrymen, because they know you're in a strange land here and you need a little help.
So those would probably be my two first places that I would go beyond just the normal networking that I talked about before. I will take you, and then you, yeah. >> I'm a little bit reticent to ask a question up here. So I'm afraid that you can read minds. >> [LAUGH].
>> Anyway, so let me >> have a good day sometimes. So on the topic of magical powers, if you could look into the future, say 20 or 30 years ahead, hypothetically, a lot of CEOs previously came from operations and then sales and then the finance. Will there be a chain, the origin of where CEOs come from particularly if they've got a technology background are technologists. And we got to be getting that we got to have the case to the executive washroom. >> Well, some do, and some have I think Technologists are going to continue to run technology companies. And if you look at even the near term future, most of the important companies are going to be technology companies, or are going to be trying to claim to the world that they're technology companies even if they're really not.
I don't know if you saw the cover article in Fortune this weekend, a picture of Bob Iger of Disney on the cover talking about Disney as a technology company and his efforts to remake Disney as a technology company. So Bob had no technology in his background and he's now a technical guru. I still think as I mentioned before, that the people that are going to move up are the ones that have taken responsibilities for pieces of business and have run them successfully.
And you can get a business unit in a larger company or even a smaller company to run if you set out to do that pretty early in your career. It might not be a massive one but if you take a small one and turn it into a medium sized one, that's going to be, that's a pretty good record. Then the next time around, they give you a medium sized one, you turn it into a big one, you're successful at that, you can do anything.
And so I actually think the question, I'd almost come back at that question and reverse it. And it's not so much what functional areas they're going to be looking to for their next leaders. They're going to look for leaders. And they're going to take them from wherever they can find them, whatever they've been doing, if they think they have the leadership capabilities to run their company or if we think they have the leadership capabilities to run another company.
But you gotta be in a position to have shown your leadership capabilities before somebody can look at you and say, this is a leader who we can give a bigger job to and if it's been all staff, that's really hard. Some combination of line and staff if you've got credible line experience and some great executives have gone back and forth between line and staff. And there's a few that have gotten to the top of big companies, all staff through consulting or, Staff jobs, typically more finance than say the softer ones like planning or HR or PR. But I still think that setting out to build a record of having been successful running something where that success can be measured. And people recognize it is the best path that I can find to leadership. There's a question I wasn't asked yet, at least today but I'm going to ask it and then answer it because it gets back to setting the reset button in your career.
And some of you here may want to go and make a radical shift. I don't know that to be true, but there's always some and if you've been doing consumer products and you want to go to tech, or even all big company and you want to go to startup. And people ask me about, How that kind of a desire matches up with executive recruiters. And the answer is, it doesn't. Hardly at all.
And you will frustrate yourself a lot if in fact you're trying to make that work because 99 times out of 100 it isn't going to work. What recruiters want, they want an easy path to a solution of a client problem. And they've got a defined spec. And let's call it a marketing director position for PC apps business.
Well who are they going to present as candidates on that search? They're going to present probably three candidates after a work. They want to present the top individual in that job for their client company's biggest competitor, or the number two person in a company a lot bigger. Or somebody two levels up In a smaller company in the same space or a closely related space. So, basically somebody that's done this job before and can come in here and do this job for my client fast.
They're not going to present somebody who was a finance manager in a consumer project products company that got his MBA and now wants to be a marketing manager in tech. It's not going to happen, that job can happen but not down that channel. If you want to make a jump shift, what is what we call a jump shift, change of function and change of industry.
You're likely not going to get much help from the executive recruiting profession to do that. And that's just a fact. And I just want to tell you that clear because don't waste your time trying to convince them to do that because they're not. You gotta go find that another way.
And the way you find it is typically by somebody who knows you, that's seen you work somewhere else before and is in a position to say, yeah, I know you've never done that before but I know you can do it because I've seen what you