Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Summary: Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

If I face the facts, I'm a rookie. I've only been in the workforce 5-6 years and that's only if you count 2 years of business school. I read Liz Wiseman's book Rookie Smarts hoping to get some ideas on how to navigate a fast paced workplace as a rookie and I got exactly that. Here are my high level takeaways.

picture of liz wiseman book, rookie smarts

You have more to offer as a rookie than you think. Often, when you're early in your career all you can think about is the experience you don't have and the questions you don't know the answers to. In reality, being a rookie can be a competitive advantage.

Hire an expert....get one expert, hire a rookie, get 5 experts. One of the main advantages we have as rookies is that we don't think we know everything. Our instinct to learn from others when we don't have the answers will actually give us a broader perspective and lots of fresh ideas.

Quick wins are important. If you're in a situation where you're in over your head, look for some quick wins to build momentum, something that can be done in a few weeks.

Take small steps and increase the frequency of feedback. Instead of asking your manager how to do something, consult with experts, do your homework and come back with a recommendation. Do this every few days if needed. If you're checking in for feedback frequently, it's unlikely you'll fall flat on your face with a project since you've had so much time to implement feedback and iterate.

Rookie's need a network to succeed. Rookies are successful because they aren't afraid to leverage those around them. If your network is small, don't worry. Leverage classmates, colleagues and friends. Start building your network by going out to lunch with fellow employees. The bigger the network, the more of an asset it will be to you as a rookie and beyond.

Since I write a lot about the advantages of working in fast growing tech companies early in your career, I just want to point out that if you're in a fast growing tech company you might always feel like a rookie. This book will help you think like a rookie, even when you've got more experience under your belt.

I'm about to take on a new project at work that is definitely going to stretch me. After reading this book, I now have a better understanding on how to make being a rookie into an asset.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Silicon Valley's Most Famous Perk is More Than a Free Lunch

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. 

One of the most well known perks that you can find in many Silicon Valley offices is free lunch. At LinkedIn (where I work) this is the case. The lunch that is served at headquarters in Mountain View is superb. I think for those that have never experienced working at a company that feeds you, there are a few misconceptions about the real value of this perk.

Source: Flickr Maaco
Most people think that it's about getting free meals every day. That is certainly convenient.

You might also think it's about saving some $$. I'm always looking for a deal and it's true that I spend less on food because I'm eating lunch at work.

To me though, the real value of a free lunch is the relationships it helps me build and maintain. Here are a few examples.

A few weeks ago I bumped into a senior executive in the kitchen. We had a nice chat, so later that day I emailed him and asked him if he'd like to grab lunch sometime. He said "sounds great" and we got it scheduled right away. Having the food onsite and free makes having lunch with someone else (even senior executives) at the company easy and comfortable.

Every other week or so I eat breakfast with a colleague that works in a completely different part of the company. It's not a scheduled breakfast, we just happen to be getting breakfast at the same time about every other week. There have been many times after chatting about what she's working on, I go back to my desk to chat with my team about how some of the things she's working on will impact our group. This informal channel to share company information breaks down silos that can exist as companies grow.

Our founder, Reid Hoffman, said in The Start Up of You, "one lunch is worth dozens of emails". I'm able to strengthen my relationships not just with coworkers, but with friends and acquaintances that I frequently invite to join me for lunch at LinkedIn. Free lunch and a policy that allows me to bring guests greatly expands the number of people that I can maintain relationships with through this perk.

Free lunch is great, but to me, what matters the most are the relationships you can build over those meals