Thank You For Keeping Me Smart

Thank you 2015

In my constant quest to stay smart I’d like to wrap up 2015 by thanking:

Gary Vaynerchuk for ‘walking the talk’ and hustling like no one. #genius.

Michael Moe of GSV Capital for publishing #AtoApple which I read religiously each Sunday evening to understand market analyses and perspectives on innovation.

Wayne Breibarth for his free LinkedIn tips and constant value.

Twitter (Lists) for the ability to save me TIME in organizing my information so succinctly. Here are the 111 VCs I follow daily.

ChicagoInno for keeping an ‘ear to the ground’ on the Chicago innovation scene.

Kendra Olvany, my Up n Running Co-Founder and co-researcher/curator for The RUNDOWN for her insights and attention to detail.

Built in Chicago for a thoughtful, organically  grown community covering this great city of Chicago.

Technori for impactful monthly pitch nights here in Chicago and for recognizing that people still want to get together in person.

theSkimm for bite-size but intelligent supplements to my daily news reading.

The Muse for its ‘Companies Hiring Like Crazy’ emails and Sunday Inspirations. Even though I am not looking for a new job it is critical to see who is hiring, where they’re hiring and why they’re hiring.

Business Insider for ’10 things in tech you need to know today’.

Mattermark Daily for its compiled Sunday Weekend Edition.

Medium for daily digests and to see what is trending.

Re/code Decode Podcasts by Kara Swisher for fantastic in-depth interviews with tech leaders. I listen while bike riding or walking and always learn something meaningful.

The Information to fill in gaps.

Blue Sky Chicago for attempting to cover innovation in Chicago (part of the Chicago Tribune).

Kellogg Insights for research coming out of Northwestern’s Kellogg School.

McKinsey Insights for the occasional alert/report on technology and the internet.

The Broadsheet from Fortune mag for boiling down c-suite female news.

Simply Measured which provides valuable insights on Instagram trends with meaningful industry reports.

Skillcrush newsletters and the brilliant Adda Birnir for reminding me of the importance of coding.

Lastly, the obvious ‘go-to’ reads: Wall Street Journal, Crains  NYTChicago Tribune (special shootout to Scott Kleinberg who always shares social media tips.)

It’s been a great year of growth and staying smart. Here’s to a 2016 of keeping up!

Advertisements

Over 50? Have an MBA? The New World of Work: Get Over Yourself.

James Janega of ChicagoBlueSky, part of the Chicago Tribune,  posed this question with a subsequent article, “What predicts success at a startup?” Education? An MBA?

Not really. Or so he determined through various interviews of founders. Even better, he coined a great term: “humble agility.” In my opinion, Janega nailed it.  What exactly IS the value of an MBA? More importantly, though, what does it take in this day and age to have success at a startup – or better yet – be a successful worker? I just turned 50 – so I am gearing this post to my age group.

For what it’s worth, I have segued in and out of the workplace as my husband and I raise our kids. I have had many roles over the years from co-founding a start-up to working in traditional, Fortune 1000-type to venture-backed fast-paced startups. I also have always worn a business development and sales hat in each role I have undertaken. I prosper in growth mode.

Today there is a new world order. In my experience, these are the rules:

New rule:

  • Be Humble. No one really cares whether you have fancy credentials (e.g. an MBA or Ivy League diploma). What employers really care about is your willingness to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done. The days of having a secretary or analyst or even office space seem to be gone; as in not returning. For the startup world, anyways.
    • My experience: I have a Kellogg MBA for which I am forever grateful. That being said, the best preparation one can get for the ability to roll up one’s sleeves  is good, old-fashioned sales experience. If you’ve ever had to sell/work on commission in order to pay your rent, then you will understand. Why? It’s humbling. As for rolling up your sleeves? If you are a parent you might have an advantage. Why? It, too, is humbling. I’ve spent years rolling up my sleeves. That’s what moms do. As for the MBA? It does come in handy for a mom who segues in and out of the workforce as I have over the last 25 years. I view it as my insurance policy or certificate of authenticity. My conclusion: sales experience + parent  (+MBA as a bonus)= good combo for long-term employability.
  • Be Agile. Be willing to roll with the punches – (and they’re moving really fast.) Stretch yourself.
    • My experience: The world is moving fast. You have a choice to either watch it speed by or try to hop on board and learn along the way. Read. Practice. Our children will have +/- 13 careers in their lifetime. We cannot sit around with an old-fashioned mindset.
  • Continuously learn.
    • As Michael Moe often cites in his GSVCapital reports, “people need to continuously hone their skills to evolve with market demand. We describe this trend as ‘KaizenEDU’, drawing on the Japanese term for ‘continuous improvement’.” Try new tools. If I hear one more person tell me that they “don’t do social media”?! Really? How will you ever know the right questions to ask if you don’t have any first-hand experience??
  • Embrace youth. Be willing to work with employees much younger than you are, whetherGenx’ers,Millennials, or even teens – embrace it!
    • My experience: whether helping my college-grad daughter’s friends secure employment or working for a boss 15 years my junior – forget about the ‘experience-is-better’ adage. Sure, in life I have plenty of experience. In work I have plenty of experience. I also had assistants and analysts complete tasks for me in my “old life”; today, the younger kids are digital natives. They have good ideas, great technical skills and quite often – very disruptive and new ways of looking at old problems. Do not begrudge them; rather celebrate their youth!

In summary – and this is tough to swallow:

Get over yourself.

Go to school on me: once you do, it’s an awful lot of fun..PLUS You’ll be able to keep up with the Joneses in a whole new way!