21 career tips from Stanford faculty

Career tips seems to follow the old adage that advice is worth about as much as you paid for it. So, what are you willing to pay? For most of us, we are getting drowned in all the free advice. Instead, we have collected career advice from some of the best faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. A two year MBA from Stanford costs upwards of $200,000 so it’s good. Therefore, read on.

Career tips

  • Successful people listen. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio. You learn more by listening than talking.
  • Follow the Pareto principle. Always look for the 80/20 of any situation, relationship, or project. Eighty percent of the value is delivered by twenty percent of the product/service. Focus on that 20 percent.
  • Never underestimate the importance of passion. When Warren Buffet finds people to run his business, his key criteria is to find somebody who would do the job whether they would get paid or not. His $58.5 billion in net worth proves it.
  • Be likable. People who are liked have the wind at their backs not in their face. So be liked.
  • Just when you think you’ve got it 100% right, you can be taken down. It doesn’t matter how secure you feel don’t get complacent. Large companies aren’t beaten by startups because they get out resourced they get trumped because they think they have things all figured out.
  • People who are lucky make their own luck. You only make your own luck by staying in the game. Almost everybody thinks they have a million dollar idea but only the select few have the vision and determination to make it into a reality.

Working with People

  • Put on “the cloak” of leadership. A large part of your role as a leader is to inspire and motivate your employees, and people will look to you for confidence. If you were on a plane with engine problems, you don’t want the pilot to say “I am exploring a number of options and hope that…”, you want him to say, “I will do whatever it takes to land this plane.”
  • The outcome of a negotiation is largely a function of your alternatives. Know your next best option, and your next best. It helps to be the smartest person in the room and the most prepared person in the room.
  • You will only be as good as the people you will recruit. Pop culture and the media celebrate individuals and create icons but teams succeed. Think about the wildly successful i-products (iPhone, iPad, iPod) it wasn’t Steve Jobs doing everything, there were numerous teams of hundreds of employees that worked together to make those products into a reality.

Management Best Practices

  • The best scientists can explain complex issues in simple terms. Pretty good scientists can explain complex issues in complex terms. Communication not so that they understand but communication so clearly that they cannot misunderstand.
  • A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s. Always strive to hire people better than you are. Take your ego out of it. Surround yourself with great minds and smart people and they will amaze you. Remember teams not individuals succeed.
  • Be a clear, fair manager. For example, when speaking to a business unit leader that isn’t succeeding, say: “I want a strategy to win in 1-page and the objectives we need to hit each quarter to reach them.” Don’t be a jerk but communication expectations and standards of excellence. Provide a vision and get down in the trenches and work.

Create Business Opportunities

  • When considering a business opportunity, look for change. What inflection point are you taking advantage of? Without change, there is rarely opportunity. Sometimes a seemingly meaningless idea can’t be worth billions. How can relationship statuses and vacation pictures be worth billions? Ask Facebook.
  • When in doubt, just keep selling. Not a bad default strategy to communicate to your team. It concerted, persistent effort.
  • Be humble. The markets are brutal to those who are arrogant.
  • Understand what you don’t do well. First, know thyself. Surround yourself with people and resources that can do these things well. Blind spots are for cars not people.
  • Practice self-discipline. Set targets, have timetables, have clear unambiguous goals. Life passes quickly – days, weeks, months, years, a lifetime. “Regret for the things we did, can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable.”

Trust in yourself

  • Be yourself. In group settings, you usually serve the group best by thoughtfully expressing exactly what you are thinking. Not necessarily what the group wants to hear. The world has enough yes men, learn to communicate the truth and you will be very valuable.
  • Learn to relax. Overachievers are often passionate about many things. It’s important to learn not to always care so much. Try being indifferent to things that aren’t that important.
  • You’ve got to give trust to get trust. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Sometimes people take advantage of you. That’s fine, don’t do business with them again.
  • Shoot for the moon. To be successful, don’t follow the pack. If you want to win, don’t hedge.

“Appreciate the people you work with, take care of your investors, celebrate successes along the way, communicate lavishly – good news and bad news, tell the truth, don’t try to maximize everything, and take time to stop and smell the roses. Life is pretty short and most of what really matters doesn’t happen at the office.”

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